Advocacy of the body of Parsi: opinion of Gujarat HC at the Center, report on religious rituals for the deceased of Covid

The Gujarat High Court sent notice to the central and state government as well as the Surat District Collector and Municipal Commissioner on a petition from the Council of Surat Parsi Panchayat asking that Parsis be allowed to observe their ritual on Friday. religious final rites for those who die due to Covid -19.

The petitioners requested court intervention to protect their “fundamental rights to perform the last rites of community members in accordance with their religious practices who have lost their lives due to Covid-19 in the past year and who may lose their lives due to Covid-19 ”, and not to force them to opt for cremation or burial“ against their religious practices and feelings ”.

Central government Covid-19 guidelines set the protocol for cremation and burial practices. Therefore, the petitioners pointed out that the government of Gujarat and the local administration of Surat do not recognize any other mode of disposal of the deceased from Covid-19.

Parsis exposes their deceased in a secluded place known as Dakhmas (the tower of silence), to be eaten by vultures while the remains are exposed to the sun to be broken down.

The petition was presented by the Board of Surat Parsi Panchayat, a charitable trust, which is the supreme body representing the Parsi Zoroastrian community in Surat, through its chairman Jamshed Dotivala and a trustee, Dr Homi Doodhwala.

The petitioners argued that the Surat Parsi community has lost more than 29 Parsis to Covid-19 during the pandemic and authorities have forced relatives to opt for cremation despite the lack of a ban or express ban by the law of the Parsi funeral ritual.

According to data held by the community, as of May 15, at least 55 Covid deaths have been recorded among the Parsis of Gujarat, in the districts of Navsari, Surat and Ahmedabad.

The petitioners, who were represented by lead lawyer Asim Pandya and lawyer Manan Bhatt, in the Nirzar Desai court on Friday, also said in their petition that “there is no evidence that the coronavirus is spreading. by the dead body ”, and argued that only the ritual restriction of the final rites to cremation or burial, is“ not supported by research or scientific data which authorizes the defendants to deny the fundamental rights of applicants ”.

Pending the final decision on the petition, the petitioners demanded that the respondent government authorities be prevented from creating obstacles for Parsis and their members to perform the final rites of members who died from Covid-19 in accordance with Parsi rituals.

The respondents are expected to respond to the allegations raised by the petitioner by May 27, when the case is due next.

Ruth R. Culp