PIL on repatriation of bodies of migrant workers who die abroad

The Delhi High Court on Monday sought a response from the Centre on a plea claiming that several airlines, including Air India, allegedly charged “exorbitant” rates for domestic transportation and repatriation of bodies of migrant Indian workers who die abroad.

]A Bench of Chief Justice Rajendra Menon and Justice V.K. Rao issued notices to the Ministries of External Affairs and Civil Aviation, and Air India, seeking their stand by January 14, 2019, the next date of hearing.

The public interest litigation, (PIL) filed by NGO Pravasi Legal Cell, has sought framing of guidelines by the Centre for the same. The NGO said under the prevalent policy, the mortal remains are weighed as mere cargo and a rate is fixed according to the weight. The plea said it was “not only a gross inhuman practice but also violative of the dignity of the body”.

The petition has said that transportation of mortal remains by air are always a “costly affair”, especially for poor migrant workers. The petition stated that Air India charges 15 dirhams per kg (around ₹300 per kg).

“Due to financial constraints, relatives of the deceased are unable to take the body back to their home town. In several instances, these migrant workers who die far from their home town are buried or cremated in a foreign land without their kith or kin being present,” the plea added.

The NGO has also alleged that some airlines have stopped flying the remains of disadvantaged Indian workers without freight charges, even if recommended by Indian missions.

“Instead, the bereaved will now have to get the cost of repatriating the mortal remains reimbursed from the Indian Community Welfare Fund [ICWF], a critical support fund for distressed Indians created by the External Affairs Ministry,” it said.

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Printable version | Jan 18, 2021 8:47:52 AM |

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