On May 28, 2020, A Division Bench of the Patna High Court headed by Chief Justice Amreshwar Pratap Sahi and comprising Justice S. Kumar has taken suo motu cognizance of the video that had gone viral on social media and is reported in all newspapers where a child was shown trying to wake up his dead mother.
Writing for the Bench, Chief Justice wrote that his brother Judge S. Kumar had drawn his attention to a newspaper article published in the “Times of India” dated May 28, 2020, in Patna edition. This was also brought to the notice of Sri S. D. Yadav, learned Additional Advocate General. In the video, the toddler was trying to wake up his dead mother lying on a railway platform. The child could be seen removing a shawl covering his mother’s body. This incident had taken place on Monday at Muzaffarpur railway station. The woman was returning from Surat and was supposed to get down at Katihar. Some reports had said that the woman had died of thirst and hunger on the train, but the railways said she was ill.
On this, the Court remarked, “the incident is rather shocking and unfortunate. This warrants intervention by us in the exercise of our jurisdiction under Article 226 of the Constitution of India and as such we take suo motu cognizance of the news item and issue notice.”
The following issues were framed for immediate consideration: (a) whether the post-mortem of the dead body was conducted? If yes, what was the cause of death? Did the lady die of hunger? (b) was she traveling alone with her sibling? If not, who all were her companions, (c) what action stands taken by the law enforcing agencies, (d) were the relatives of the deceased informed of the incident, (f) were the last rights of the deceased performed as per the custom, tradition and the instructions issued by the government, and (g) Above all who is now taking care of the children/sibling(s), who unfortunately lost their mother in these times of distress. The matter was posted on the same day at 2.15 PM. When the matter was again taken up at 2.30 PM, Additional Advocate General informed the Court that the news report was partially incorrect. He further informed the Court that the deceased was mentally unstable and had died a natural death during her journey from Surat (Gujarat), which fact was reported by her companions i.e., her sister and brother-in-law (sister’s husband. The deceased had been deserted by her husband and had only one child. Her brother-in-law had informed the Railway Authorities about her death and after recording his statement the dead body was allowed to be taken home. No post mortem was conducted. Also, no FIR was registered. The orphaned child is in safe custody and guardianship of the sister of the deceased. Shri Yadav further states that even though the child is safe and secure, yet he shall personally pursue the matter with the authorities who would again reach out to the family, enquiring about any need for assistance. The Court refrained from issuing any direction, as it wanted to know whether the Supreme Court had taken cognizance of the matter and the Court was relieved as the child was in safe custody. The matter is listed for June 03, 2020. [READ ORDER]