Tamil Nadu Promulgates Ordinance to Ensure Dignified Burial/ Cremation

After a series of incidents where locals protested against the burial of COVID-19 victims, the Tamil Nadu government promulgated an ordinance which makes blocking such burials/ cremation a criminal offence.

About the Incidents

In April, the burials and cremations of several COVID-19 victims, including doctors, were blocked by locals due to fear of the virus’ spread. The protests had even resulted in physical attacks and injuring of civic body staff and health workers. Earlier, the government had resorted to the Goondas Act to curb the issue. Now an ordinance has been brought in under the TN Public Health Act.

TN Public Health Act

The section 74 of the Tamil Nadu Public Health Act of 1939 deals with disposal of bodies of victims of notified diseases. The section prevent unnecessary contact or proximity by people with the victim’s body. It also sets limit on the time for which the body can be held undisposed. Under this act, the blocking of burial is a criminal offence and will be punished with a prison term of 1 to 3 years along with a fine.

Goondas Act

Earlier, the government had arrested more than 24 people in connection with these incidents and had invoked the Goondas Act. The Tamil Nadu Prevention of Dangerous Activities of Bootleggers, Drug Offenders, Goondas, Immoral Traffic Offenders, Forest Offenders, Sand Offenders, Slum-Grabbers and Video Pirates Act, 1982 is a preventive detention tool used to arrest persons without a trial process.

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