DMC Act- Crematorium Cannot Be Ordered To Be Closed Unless It Dangerously Affects Human Health Or Becomes Offensive: SC
The Supreme Court has observed, "Therefore, until and unless the conditions as mentioned in Section 391 of the Act, 1957 are satisfied and it is specifically found that any burning or burial ground has become offensive, or dangerous to the health of the persons residing at neighbourhood, the burning and burial ground can be ordered to be closed with the previous sanction of the Standing Committee."
The Bench of Justice MR Shah and Justice MM Sundresh while setting aside and quashing the order of the High Court observed –
"A conscious decision has been taken by the Standing Committee not to close the crematorium at Village Masoodpur looking to the public interest and in the interest of village people of Village Masoodpur. If the request made on behalf of respondent No. 1 is accepted in that case on the settlement of the residents subsequently every crematorium in the city/town will have to be shifted outside the town/city, which shall not be in the interest of the residents of the village/city/town."
The Bench further held that the Municipal Corporation must take steps to modernize the crematorium by shifting it to a modern electric crematorium which shall be in the larger public interest of the village people as well as the residents of the neighborhood area.
Advocate Vandana Sehgal appeared for the Municipal Corporation whereas, Advocate Karan Singh Bhati appeared on behalf of Respondent No. 1 i.e., Federation of Residents Welfare Association.
Brief facts of the case –
The cremation ground at Masoodpur, New Delhi has been in existence for more than 100 years and the same is for the benefit of village people. Residents Welfare Association, Vasant Kunj approached the High Court through Writ Petition for not permitting the use of the land in question as a cremation ground.
The High Court disposed of the said writ petition and directed the Municipal Corporation to take an appropriate decision under Section 391 of the Delhi Municipal Corporation Act, 1957. The Court also directed that the corporation shall take possession of the land offered at Kishangarh and shall make all necessary arrangements to use the same as a crematorium.
The Standing Committee in the exercise of powers under Section 391 of the 1957 Act took a decision of not closing the crematorium at Masoodpur Village stating that it is not in the public interest to close the same as it is being used for the village since a long time.
Thereafter, the appellant i.e., the Municipal Corporation filed an application before the High Court for modification of the order passed in the writ petition but the Court dismissed the same.
Hence, the appellants filed an appeal in the Supreme Court.
The Apex Court noted that a conscious decision has been taken by the Standing Committee of Municipal Corporation under Section 391 of the 1957 Act not to close the crematorium and the High Court ought to have modified its earlier order by which the appellant was directed to shift the crematorium.
The Court also stated –
"At this stage it is required to be noted that as such under Section 42(f) of the Act, 1957 it is the duty cast upon the Municipal Corporation to make provision for regulation of places for the disposal of dead and the provision of maintenance of said places is an obligatory function of Municipal Corporation. Therefore, until and unless the conditions as mentioned in Section 391 of the Act, 1957 are satisfied and it is specifically found that any burning or burial ground has become offensive, or dangerous to the health of the persons residing at neighbourhood, the burning and burial ground can be ordered to be closed with the previous sanction of the Standing Committee."
Hence, the Court directed the appellant to take relevant steps to shift to a modern electric crematorium, and the said exercise shall be completed within twelve months.
Accordingly, the Court allowed the appeal.
Cause Title – South Delhi Municipal Corporation v. Federation of Residents Welfare Association, Vasant Kunj (Regd.) and Ors.