By Avijit Biswas
Bhagalpur: Creating awareness among participants about Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) regarding respectfully transporting dead bodies to postmortem centers and disposal of unidentified/ unclaimed bodies would form part of future training programmes for police personnel in state.
Of late a SOP for respectfully transporting dead bodies to postmortem centers and for disposal of unidentified and unclaimed bodies was decided by state police department.
Aiming at creating large scale awareness among police personnel, decision has been taken at departmental level for inclusion of SOP directives in format of training programmes held periodically for home guards, policemen and police officials.
All concerned district police authorities have been communicated by Additional Director General (ADG), Crime Investigation Department (CID) for inclusion of the SOP directives in training programmes.
The state police department move comes in light of high court directive given recently in Public Interest Litigation (PIL) CWJC No 14559/2023. It may be mentioned directive was issued by high court taking Suo motto cognizance on disrespectful treatment of unidentified dead body of road accident victim on NH-27 under Fukli O P in Muzaffarpur district by some policemen and home guard personnel.
The directives concerning SOP include: –
1. Use of stretcher for transporting dead body to vehicle in case body is found in place that cannot be accessed by vehicle. Strict restriction has been imposed on use of bamboo poles for removing dead bodies from place inaccessible by vehicles.
2. Essentiality of constituting team by superintendent of police / superintendent railway police for transporting decomposed dead body found in place inaccessible by vehicle. The team constituted for the purpose would be needed to be provided stretcher, gloves and PVC bag to ensure body could be respectfully brought to vehicle from place of recovery.
3. For dead bodies brought for postmortem late in evening the superintendent of police, subdivisional police official/officer-in-charge of concerned police station would ensure the body is kept properly in postmortem house.
4. Unidentified dead body needs to be preserved for at least 72 hours in air-conditioned morgue for identification. Ensuring assistance of print, electronic and social media besides publicity on police website would be essential for identification of unidentified bodies.
5. Categorizing all police stations of state in A , B and C groups, sum of Rs 25000, Rs 15000 and Rs 10000 being provided as permanent advance would be used for disposal of unidentified/unclaimed decomposed dead bodies.
6. For disposal of dead bodies found on railway track and railway premises as per religious rituals, a sum of Rs 700 is provided by railways. The allocated sum needs to be spent for specified purpose. As per state police department assessment on an average 50-100 unidentified bodies are found on railway tracks and railway premises every year under jurisdiction of major railway police stations of state.
7. In case of alleged custodial death, postmortem of body needs to be conducted by order of nearest subdivisional magistrate.
8. Following identification of dead body, if police or magistrate anticipates that handing over body to relatives could lead to law-and-order problem, in such case body would be disposed under supervision of local subdivisional officer.
9. If religion of a person could be ascertained on identification of a body, the last rites would be performed as per his or her religious faith.
10. Videography/photography of dead body needs to be ensured while disposal of the body.
The concerned district police superintendent, rail police superintendent, subdivisional officer, deputy superintendent of police and officer-in-charge of police station has been entrusted responsibility of implementing the directives.
- Writer Avijit Biswas, former principal correspondent of Hindustan Times Bhagalpur bureau, can be contacted at email@example.comContact number (mobile): +919431095516