The Calcutta High Court on Tuesday directed that postmortem be conducted on the body of a teenage boy, who was allegedly diagnosed with COVID-19 at a nursing home and died at a government hospital after being refused admission by two other facilities.
Justice Debangshu Basak directed the state government to allow his parents to view the mortal remains of their son after the postmortem, and perform the last rites at a place to be designated by the authorities.
In accordance with the submission made on behalf of the state by the additional advocate general, the government will video record the entire process of the viewing of the deceased by the petitioners, performance of the last rites in accordance with the COVID-19 guidelines by the parents and the cremation.
The state government was directed to submit a report on these on the next date.
"It is clarified that the Court did not decide the issue as to whether the deceased died due to COVID-19 or not," Justice Basak said.
The parents of the teenager moved the high court, alleging that their son died due to medical negligence.
The 18-year-old boy's mother Sarbani Chatterjee claimed that two hospitals refused treatment when they took him to these facilities. He was finally admitted to the Medical College Hospital on July 10.
He died on the same day at 9.45 pm and his parents were informed on July 11, their lawyer Bikash Bhattacharya submitted.
Additional Advocate General Abhratosh Majumdar, appearing for the state, submitted that the police have treated the complaint of the petitioners as a First Information Report (FIR) on July 12 itself.
He further submitted that the petitioners cannot be allowed to be present in the postmortem as prayed for in the petition.
Submitting that the state is not averse to postmortem as prayed for by the parents, Majumdar said that the authorities will follow the ICMR guidelines in conducting it and also in dealing with the body.
According to the petitioners, the deceased was first taken to the ESI Hospital at Kamarhati, from where he was referred to a private nursing home, where a test for COVID-19 was claimed to have been performed on him that found him positive.
He was then taken to two other medical facilities which allegedly refused admission, the court noted.
The court directed that an affidavit-in-opposition be filed by the state within four weeks, and reply thereto, if any, be filed a week thereafter.
The writ petition will be treated as ready for hearing immediately on completion of the time period prescribed for filing affidavits, the court directed.