In response to a letter highlighting the issue of the right to dignity after death, the Supreme Court has taken cognizance of the communication seeking recognition of “martyr” status for “Covid-19 warriors” who die of the viral infection.
Lawyer Manjunath Kakkalameli, who practises in Bombay High Court and district court of Solapur, had written to the Chief Justice of India, highlighting the issue of frontline workers, such as healthcare professionals and police personnel, being treated as “deaths due to Covid-19” after succumbing to the infection.
“The Supreme Court has taken cognizance of my letter and converted it into a PIL. The hearing will be held soon,” Kakkalameli said.
“We all are safe because Covid warriors, healthcare professionals and police personnel, are fighting on the frontline. In such a situation, it is at most the duty of the state government and every citizen to honour, respect, and recognise their effort and sacrifice,” he said.
The letter petition by Advocate Manjunath Kakkalameli urges that the Doctors/Health Care workers and Police Personnel working round the clock to help the country fight with COVID-19, be called ‘COVID-19 Warriors’.
“As to motivate these COVID19 fighters we call them as COVID19Warrior but subsequently when any COVID19 warrior dies on duty fighting against Corona due to COVID19 itself , media reports it as a Doctor or police personnel working on COVID19 frontline dies of CORONA , Which ought to have been reported as One more COVID19 Warrior martyred fighting against COVID” .
He further submits that States are not respecting the sacrifice of the COVID Warriors and that merely announcing compensation to their kin is not enough.
The petition highlights that the State of Odisha has already set a great example before Union of India by declaring status of martyr to Health Workers & support services who succumbs to COVID-19 in line of duty & by deciding to provide state funeral, full salary their kin.
“If the state of Odisha can declare, give the status of martyr to died COVID19 warriors, why can’t other states & Centre.” (sic)
The petition further states that as the core value of Constitution, right to die with dignity also includes dignity after death & is not only the rights of deceased COVID-19 warriors but fundamental duty of every citizen & State to honor their dedication & sacrificed life and we as state, country falling short to give proper respect, honor to these COVID-19 warriors.
He also said no state was respectful of their “sacrifice”, and that merely announcing compensation to kin was not only insufficient but “unjust”. They deserve respect after death and should be declared “martyrs”, he added.
The lawyer said after death, neither did Covid warriors receive state cremation, burial, or funeral nor were they awarded martyr status, while pointing out that the Republic of China awarded a doctor, Li Wenliang, as “martyr”. Also, the Odisha government on April 22 had declared that health workers and support service providers, who die of Covid-19 in the line of duty under formal deployment by the state, would get martyr status and a state funeral will be ensured for them along with full salary to their kin.
Kakkalameli added that to motivate them, it was the duty of the state to honour and recognise the “unparalleled sacrifice” of Covid warriors.
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