Government should escalate repatriation of remains of Hindu man buried in Saudi Arabia, HC told

NEW DELHI: There is no bar in Sharia law on exhuming bodies and the Indian government should escalate the issue of bringing back the remains of a Hindu man who was buried in Saudi Arabia as per Muslim rites, the Delhi High Court was informed on Thursday.

Taking note of the submission made by advocate Farrukh Khan as the amicus curiae before Justice Prathiba M Singh, the central government said it will wait for a few days more for the Saudi government’s response and if that does not happen, it will escalate the issue.

The Centre also told the court that due to Ramzan and COVID-19 pandemic, the process of repatriation of the remains has taken some time.

It also told the court that the Saudi officials have indicated that the matter was progressing and therefore, more time was required.

In view of the submissions made by the central government, the court listed the matter for hearing on May 12.

With regard to the deceased’s family not receiving till date the payment sent by his employer, the court directed that the money be paid by May 7 failing which the District Collector of their area shall join the proceedings on the next date.

The court was hearing a plea moved by deceased Sanjeev Kumar’s widow seeking his remains to perform the last rites here.

The widow, Anju Sharma, in her plea filed through advocate Subhash Chandran has said that on getting the news of her husband’s death, the family had requested the authorities to repatriate the mortal remains.

Sanjeev Kumar, 51, died on January 24 in Saudi Arabia, where he was working, due to cardiac arrest and his mortal remains were kept at a hospital there.

“Shockingly, on February 18, the petitioner was informed that the body of her husband has been buried in Saudi Arabia while the family members of the deceased were waiting for the mortal remains in India.”

“The officials in Indian Consulate explained that it was due to a mistake committed by the official translator of the Indian Consulate, Jeddah, who wrongly mentioned his religion as ‘Muslim’ in the death certificate.

“They also shared a letter of an apology tendered by the official translating agency of Indian Consulate in Jeddah with the petitioner herein,” claimed the petition, filed through advocate Yogamaya M G.

The plea has also said that neither the woman, nor any of the family members gave consent to bury Kumar’s body in Saudi Arabia.

Thereafter, the woman requested the officials of Indian Consulate in Jeddah to ask the local authorities there to exhume the mortal remains of her husband so that they can be transported to India for performing last rites as per the faith of the family.

“Unfortunately, even after seven weeks of the death of the husband of petitioner, the authorities have failed to do necessary formalities to repatriate the mortal remains of Sanjeev Kumar to India for performing last rites,” the plea has said.

It has also sought direction to the Centre to take appropriate departmental actions against officials concerned of the Indian Consulate at Jeddah for their “willful negligence” and also direct the authorities to obtain a corrected death certificate of the deceased and supply the document to his wife.