Centre, Parsi community agree on protocol for handling Covid victim bodies, Supreme Court told

Supreme Court accepted tweaked protocol for cremation of dead bodies of Covid patients from Parsi community, after Centre and the community mutually agreed on adopting a standard operating procedure

Supreme Court
Supreme Court


The Supreme Court on Friday accepted the tweaked protocol for the cremation of dead bodies of Covid patients from the Parsi community, after the Centre and the community mutually agreed on adopting a standard operating procedure.

The community traditionally allows dead bodies to decay naturally.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta informed a bench of Justices D.Y. Chandrachud and Surya Kant that a protocol and standard operating procedure has been agreed between the community and the Centre for handling dead bodies of Parsi Zoroastrian Covid-19 victims.

According to the protocol, the dead bodies of the Parsi Zoroastrians who die of Covid will be brought to the funeral parlour in the Tower of Silence complex and will only be handled by the 'Nassasalars' - the professional corpse bearers who have been professionally employed by the Panchayats), who will be fully vaccinated and their temperatures duly recorded before every funeral.

The body of the Covid-19 Parsi victim will be brought by the Nassasalars to the Tower of Silence complex from mortuary or home in a body bag which will not be opened, but as per existing Guidelines, the face of the deceased will be allowed to be seen from a distance of at least 10 feet by the family only by unzipping the face - covering of the body bag," said the protocol.

The note submitted in the top court said Dokhma No 3 has been set aside for Covid victims alone and used for performing religious ceremonies for dead bodies of Parsis Covid-19 victims, and this will not be used for non-Covid dead bodies.

It further added: "Since the principal mode of disposal at the Tower of Silence is through strong and powerful rays of the Sun, and hence to deal with the problem of birds of prey, the petitioner undertakes to install as soon as possible, a metallic bird net over Dokhma-No 3 - which is exclusively reserved for the dead Parsi Covid-19 victims; this will eliminate contact with birds and animals and will avoid any intrusion by vultures. Hence, there will be no exposure of the body to birds etc. once the metallic net gets installed over Dokhma-No 3."

After a hearing in the matter, the top court said the protocol is accepted, against the backdrop of the joint statement by the parties in the matter. Earlier, the Centre has told the Supreme Court that it was not possible to introduce changes in the guidelines issued for the disposal of dead bodies of Covid positive persons, to address the grievances of the Parsi community.

The top court was hearing an appeal filed by the Surat Parsi Panchayat Board challenging the July 23 order of the Gujarat High Court, dismissing its plea.

On January 10, a bench headed by Justice Chandrachud had asked the Solicitor General to engage with authorities concerned to address the grievances of the Parsi community.

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