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Queer Man's Body Released to Family, Kerala HC Allows Partner To Attend Funeral

Manu's family initially refused to accept his body from a private hospital in Kerala's Kochi.

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The Kerala High Court on Thursday, 8 February, allowed a queer person to attend the funeral of his late partner whose family initially refused to accept his body from a private hospital in Kerala's Kochi.

Justice Devan Ramachandran ordered the release the mortal remains of Manu, a Kannur native, to his family and stated that his partner Jebin could attend his funeral, provided his family does not object.

Manu died at the private hospital on 4 February after sustaining injuries from an accidental fall at the couple's residence in Kochi the day before. His family, who were not accepting of Manu's relationship with Jebin, allegedly refused to pay the medical bills and claim his body.

On the other hand, Jebin, who hails from Kottayam, could not claim his body as he was not a "legal heir." He approached the Kerala High Court on 5 February with a plea that Manu's body be released as he deserved dignity in death.

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What Happened?

Manu and Jebin lived in an apartment in Kochi and had even gotten married in a traditional ceremony, which is not recognised by law.

Manu's fall occurred on the morning of 3 February when he was on the terrace making a phone call. He was immediately shifted to the Ernakulam Medical College, and later to a private hospital in Kochi.

As he had sustained serious injuries, he was on ventilator support for over a day. He passed away on the morning of 4 February.

The hospital, however, refused to release his body as his medical bill of Rs 1 lakh remained unpaid, and his family refused to claim his body.

When Jebin moved the HC seeking to claim his body, the court agreed to hear it as an urgent petition. Justice Ramachandran sent a notice to the private hospital seeking information on the protocol in such cases.

The hospital said if a person's body is unclaimed by biological family or legal heirs, it would be handed over to a government medical college for research purposes.

Justice Ramachandran orally remarked that "even a deceased person has right over his body, and thus, the mortal remains have to be dealt with quickly," LiveLaw reported.

"Human dignity, no doubt, lies at the core of all international human rights schemes and legislations...The right of an individual to a dignified and decent burial remains inviolable and beyond question," observed the court, as per The News Minute.
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On 8 February, the court recorded Manu's family's statement and ordered to release his body to them.

"This court certainly has little doubt that the constitutionally protected and guaranteed right of every individual to dignity and fair treatment specially under Article 21 of the Constitution of India, cannot be construed to cease with death; but continues much beyond, or at least as such time as the mortal remains are dealt with the respect it commands."

Justice Ramachandran, however, said Jebin couldn't claim his mortal remains "in the absence of any evidence placed on record in support of the factum of their relationship," LiveLaw reported.

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