Centre Asks Gujarat HC For Time Regarding Plea To Allow Dokhmenashini For Covid Victims

– High Court Hearing Scheduled For 9th June, 2021 –

On 27th May, 2021, the Central Govt. asked the Gujarat High Court for more time to file its reply to the Parsi petition seeking the right to perform Dokhmenashini (customary burial) for Parsi/Irani Zoroastrians who had succumbed to Covid. Currently, community members who have passed away due to Covid are either buried or cremated. 

The counsel for the Central Govt. sought time to file the reply, citing the reason that they hadn’t received the copy of the plea. The State Govt.’s reply will depend on the stand taken by the Centre, which has been given time till 8th June, 2021, to file its reply. The case will be heard in the Hight Court on 9th June, 2021.

The petition, filed by the Surat Parsi Panchayat Board, cites the lack of scientific evidence about the transmission of Covid-19 from a corpse. The court had earlier issued notices to the Central Govt., State Govt., the Surat Municipal Corporation and the Surat Collector. As per the plea, authorities were not allowing community members to follow their religious right, which is fully protected under the Constitution. Instead, they were being forced to opt for cremating or burying the bodies of their dearly departed. 

It further said, “Fire is considered an agent of purity whereas the dead body is considered impure in Zoroastrianism. Therefore, disposal of dead bodies through cremation is against the faith and religious ethos of the Parsi Community. Moreover, burial is not possible for the reason that there is no burial ground allocated to the community. Other communities, such as Muslims and Christians, do not allow others to use their burial grounds…. Ground burial is as sinful as cremation, since it pollutes the ground and surroundings. Hence, the only option available is cremation. Disposal of their near and dear ones through cremation or burial, due to the misinterpretation of the present government guidelines, has subjected Parsis to immense emotional trauma.”

The Central Govt. guideline, as of March 15, 2020, has maintained silence, as regards the mode of disposal of Parsis who died of Covid-19. 

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