NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court, on Tuesday, issued directives for the immediate burial or cremation of bodies left unclaimed in mortuaries in Manipur following the ongoing violence since May.
A bench led by Chief Justice D Y Chandrachud, acknowledging the report submitted by the all-woman committee headed by Justice (Retd) Gita Mittal, revealed that out of 175 bodies in the mortuaries, 169 had been identified, while six remained unclaimed.
The report also highlighted that the state government had identified nine sites suitable for burial or cremation.
During Tuesday’s hearing, the bench directed that last rites for identified and claimed bodies could proceed at any of the designated nine sites without hindrance from other parties.
The state authorities are instructed to inform the relatives of identified and claimed bodies about the designated sites by December 4.
For the bodies identified but unclaimed, the state administration is required to issue a communication to the next of kin by coming Monday, granting permission to carry out the last rites within a week at any of the specified burial/cremation sites.
The collector and superintendent of police have the authority to ensure an orderly process while maintaining law and order.
The court also stressed the importance of collecting DNA samples, and in cases where samples were not previously obtained during autopsies, the state must ensure their collection before the burial or cremation.
A public notice may be issued by the state, indicating that if identified bodies remain unclaimed within one week, the government will proceed with the last rites.
The court is scheduled to hear issues raised in the committee’s report regarding compensation acceptance by the victims’ relatives on December 4.
Concerned about the prolonged retention of unidentified bodies, the court stressed that it would not be appropriate to keep them indefinitely in the mortuaries.
The Supreme Court is actively reviewing multiple pleas, including those seeking a court-monitored probe into the violence, as well as relief and rehabilitation measures.