Short Notes on Legal Status of a Dead Man in India

With their death they lay down their legal personality and as such are destitute of legal rights and duties. The law, however, interferes with respect to a dead person in the following ways:

1. A corpse is not a property and cannot be disposed of by will. But every person dying has a right to a decent burial and the criminal law secures it.

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Desecration of graves is an offence in India. But the interest recognised by law of decent burial or the non-desecration of graves is towards society, which cannot allow a corpse lying unburied or a grave being desecrated.

2. The law protects the reputation of dead persons from libelous attacks. Under the Indian Penal Code it is defamation to impute any­thing to a deceased person if the same would harm the reputation of that person if living and is intended to be hurtful to the feelings of his family or other near relations. But here also the law does not protect a dead person from being libeled but protects the living descendants who would suffer by an attack upon their deceased ancestor.

3. A man has extensive power to regulate by will the disposition and enjoyment of the property which he leaves, subject of course to the restriction imposed by law. But here again the testamentary dispo­sitions are calculated only to protect the interests of living persons.