Hindu mistaken for Muslim buried in Saudi; widow seeks mortal remains to India

New Delhi: The Delhi High Court on Tuesday directed senior official of the Ministry of External Affairs to remain present in the court with the status report on the next date of hearing while hearing a plea of window seeking to exhume the mortal remains of her Hindu husband, who was mistaken as a Muslim and buried in Saudi Arabia. The widow has pleaded for repatriation of the mortal remains to India to conduct his last rites as per the faith of the family.

A bench of Justice Prathiba M Singh while seeking a response from the respondent also directed the counsel representing the MEA to file a status report with the details of steps taken towards the wife’s plea.

The bench showing its displeasure towards MEA decided that a senior official of the ministry would be required to join the court with a status report. Bench also slated the matter for Thursday, March 18 while refused to give the MEA 10 days time.

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According to the petition, the woman’s husband named Sanjeev Kumar, an Indian citizen passed away on January 24 this year at his workplace in Saudi Arabia.  Sanjeev Kumar, who worked in Saudi Arabia for 23 years died due to diabetes, hypertension and cardiac arrest and the mortal remains were kept in Beesh General Hospital, Jizan, Saudi Arabia.
The woman represented by the Advocates Subhash Chandran K.R. and. Yogmaya M.G in the case.

The woman told the court that on getting the information of his death, her family members had requested the concerned authority to repatriate the mortal remains. Subsequently, the Petitioner/wife was asked to execute a Power of Attorney for completing the formalities of repatriation of mortal remains of Sanjeev Kumar and the same was done on January 28, the petition states.

However, on February 18, the wife 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 the 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 apology tendered by the official translating agency of the Indian Consulate in Jeddah with the Petitioner.

She told the Court that neither she nor any member of the family of the deceased has given any consent to bury the body of Sanjeev Kumar in Saudi Arabia.

The Petitioner requested the officials of the Indian Consulate in Jeddah to impress the local authorities to exhume the mortal remains of her husband so that the same 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 concerned have failed to do necessary formalities to repatriate the mortal remains of Sanjeev Kumar to India for performing last rites.

“That the inaction on the part of the respondents are illegal and arbitrary, thus violating the fundamental rights of the Petitioner guaranteed under the Constitution of India, ” the woman said and urged the Delhi High Court to issue a direction to the Union of India and Indian Consulate (Jeddah) to do necessary formalities for exhuming the mortal remains of her husband repatriate the same to India in an urgent and time-bound basis.

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