The Supreme Court Monday asked the Bombay High Court to decide the plea, preferably within two weeks, opposing the burial of people dying of COVID-19 in a cemetery in Mumbai's Bandra west locality on the ground that it might spread infection in adjoining areas.
A bench comprising Justices R F Nariman and Indira Banerjee passed the order while hearing through video-conferencing an appeal filed against the April 27 interim order of the high court.
The order had refused to grant interim relief on a plea challenging Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation's (BMC) permission to use three cemeteries in the Bandra West to bury bodies of COVID-19 victims.
"The impugned interim order by the single judge of the Bombay High Court dated April 27 has denied ad-interim relief in the writ petition filed," the top court said in its order.
"Concerning the fact that the writ petitioner and his family members are worried about the spread of COVID-19 thanks to burials taking place in the immediately adjacent burial ground, we feel that this is a matter in which the motion itself should be taken up and disposed of at the earliest, preferably within a period of two weeks from today," the bench said while disposing of the plea.
The plea, filed in the high court by Mumbai-resident Pradeep Gandhy and others who are residing near the Konkani Muslim Kabrastan in suburban Bandra west, had claimed that locals were afraid of community spread of the virus, if the burial was not done properly.
Later, a Muslim body had sought intervention in the appeal filed by Ghandy in the top court, and said that the apprehension about alleged spread of infection due to burial of bodies of those infected with COVID-19 was unfounded as there was no risk of the spread of virus.
"It is submitted that the burial of dead bodies is essential to the religion of Islam as well as in other religions such as Christianity. Such a right forms part of the right to practice one's religion under Article 25 of the Constitution of India," the Muslim body had said in its plea.
In its order passed on Monday, the top court noted, "Application for impleadment/intervention is disposed of in view of the fact that the special leave petition itself has been disposed of."