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Madras High Court stays reburial of mortal remains of Dr Simon Hercules who died of Covid 19

- April 15, 2021

Chennai, April 15(BPNS)

A division bench of the Madras High Court on Thursday stayed its order directing the Chennai corporation to exhume the body of Dr Simon Hercules who died of Covid 19 from a burial ground at Velangudu and to rebury it at a cemetery at Kilpauk as requested by the family.

The bench  comprising of Justice MM Sundresh and Justice RN Manjula passed the interim order on an appeal moved by the corporation against the single bench order of the court on March 31.

The division bench in its order said ,” The authorities are required to deal with much more serious issues than this during the  second wave of the pandemic”.

It may be recalled that single bench of Justice Abdul Quaddhose on March 31 ordering to exhume the body of Dr Simon following a petition filed by his widow, Anandhi Simon.

Justice Abdul Quaddhose had in the order made it clear that the dignity of the deceased should be maintained through out the process.  The Judge in his order stated ,” The Covid  19 guidelines issued by the Central government and the WHO had made it clear that the infection would not be contracted from a dead body”.

With India not having a proper legislation on exhumation of dead bodies, Justice Adbul Quaddhose had after some research decided to rely on a statute of Ireland- the Local Government(Sanitary Services) Act.

Justice Abdul Quaddhose has said, “This court, after perusing and examining the safeguards adopted in Ireland for the purpose of exhumation ,is of the considered view that till such time a legislation on exhumation comes in place in India, the same safeguards shall be followed while exhuming Dr Simon’s body.”

It may be noted that Dr Simon Hercules was a Neurosurgeon and Managing Director of New Hope Medical Centre in Kilpauk and died of Covid -19 on April 19,2020.  Locals had opposed the cremation of the Doctor’s body at Kilpauk cemetery as they feared that it would cause the spread of the disease in the area. The body was taken to a burial ground at Vellangadu and mob turned violent here also resulting in damaging the ambulance in which the body was carried injuring the doctor who had driven the ambulance carrying the body. Later with the help of the police, the body was buried at Vellangadu.

His widow, Anandhi Simon had requested the Chennai corporation on April 25,2020 to exhume his body and to cremate it at Kilpauk cemetery as per his last wish. However her pray was rejected by the corporation and announced that a committee of Public health experts which it had constituted had advised it to not to permit reburial of the body to minimize risk to public.