Eleven months after the body of Chennai-based neurosurgeon Dr. Simon Hercules, who had succumbed to Covid-19 serving the people, was buried in a shallow grave of Velangadu, the Madras High Court on Wednesday has ordered the exhumation of his body. The court took into account the legal battle that the deceased doctor's wife Anandi Simon was compelled to fight after locals and the Chennai Corporation had denied his burial at the Kilpauk Cemetary.
Justice Abdul Quddhose observed the wrong done to Dr. Simon posthumously and said that his body was shunted from one burial spot to another owing to objections raised by "heartless human beings for allowing the burial of the body of a Covid-19 victim." The court listed certain precautionary measures to be taken during the exhumation process.
The judge said that all protocols in place for Covid-19 must be followed, while sufficient police personnel will be deployed, both at the Velangadu burial ground and the Kilpauk Cemetary, where Simon's body will be taken for reburial. "he Health Officer nominated by the Greater Chennai Corporation shall be present to supervise the process. This is being done to ensure all mandatory procedures are complied with, while the people present show respect to the deceased at all times, and that the public health is protected," the court ruled.
The court passed the ruling after detailed observation of the safeguards adopted by foreign countries for conducting the final rites of a person who died due to Covid-19. The judge said, "Until the time when legislation on exhumation comes in place in India, the safeguards followed by foreign countries shall be followed while exhuming Simon's body." The court further observed that the process of exhumation must start at the earliest in the morning to ensure maximum privacy while screens must be placed around the existing grave of Simon in Velangadu to protect the exhumation from public view.
Workers deployed to carry out the process must take all precautions at the Kilpauk burial site and maintain hygiene. Disinfectants and disposable clothes with proper respiratory facemasks must be made available to these workers, and later must be disposed of safely after the exhumation is completed. The court then said that the entire process shall be video-graphed and the remains and pieces of the casket shall be placed in the new casket, the judge concluded.