SC stays Telangana HC’s order to test dead bodies for COVID-19

The Telangana government has stopped testing the dead bodies for COVID-19, since May 20.
Supreme Court stays Telangana HC order to conduct COVID-19 tests on dead bodies
Supreme Court stays Telangana HC order to conduct COVID-19 tests on dead bodies
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The Supreme Court on Wednesday issued an interim order staying the Telangana High Court’s order to test all the dead bodies for COVID-19. The apex court said that the order by the Telangana HC was ‘premature.’

The case was heard by the bench led by Justice J Ashok Bhushan. 

According to LiveLaw, Justice Bhushan told senior advocate Shyam Divan appearing for the state of Telangana, “We have read your plea. We are inclined to grant you relief. Directions for testing of all dead bodies as given by Telangana HC is stayed. Bench observed that it was a premature order.”

The Telangana government had stopped testing the dead bodies for COVID-19 from May 20. But on May 26, the Telangana High Court, while hearing a Public Interest Litigation, had directed the state government to conduct COVID-19 tests for the deceased, a task the government had called "impossible." During subsequent hearings, on June 8, the High Court was informed that the state government had approached the Supreme Court challenging its order.

However, since the SC did not stay the order, the High Court bench comprising Chief Justice Raghavendra Singh Chauhan and Justice B Vijaysen Reddy said, “Since the directions have not been stayed by the Apex Court, the state government is duty bound to carry out the directions.”

Justifying the government’s stand, the Telangana Chief Minister’s Office in a press release on June 9 had said, “It is difficult to implement the High Court order that coronavirus tests should be conducted on the dead for whatever reasons they have died. In the state, 900 to 1000 people die every day due to various reasons. Every day someone will die in some remote part of the state. It is not possible to conduct tests on them. If the medical staff in the hospitals is deputed for this duty, they will not get any time to treat the patients.”

It further added, “There will be patients who come to the hospitals for other diseases and some for deliveries. There are now some who come for the treatment of coronavirus. It is not possible to conduct tests on the dead for coronavirus leaving these patients.” 

The apex court had issued notice issued and listed the matter after two weeks.


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