New Delhi, Apr 5 (ILNS) The Delhi High Court today directed the Ministry of External Affairs to look for alternative legal remedies, in order to expedite the process for repatriation of the mortal remains of a Hindu man, who was wrongly buried in Saudi Arabia.
The single Judge bench of Justice Prathiba M Singh said, “The Indian Consulate shall also find other ways to approach any other authority or legal remedy, which can be helpful to bring back the mortal remains of the petitioner’s husband.”
The said directions were passed, after a senior official of the MEA told the court that though a further follow-up was done with the senior Embassy officials of Saudi in New Delhi, however, no positive response was received as to when the mortal remains of the deceased man can be repatriated.
The submissions were made by Vishnu Sharma, Director of the Consular, Passport & Visa (CPV) Division of the Ministry of External Affairs, while the court was hearing a petition filed by Anju Sharma, the widow of Sanjeev Kumar, who was wrongly buried in Saudi Arabia, though he was a Hindu.
“The MEA had reminded the Saudi Embassy in Delhi to expedite the process of repatriation. The communication was done through phone, Whatsapp and Email,” Mr Sharma told the court.
The court has slated the matter for hearing on April 8.
On March 24, the Central government had informed the Delhi High Court that it was making all possible efforts to ‘expeditiously’ repatriate the mortal remains of Sanjeev Kumar. However, he also clarified that no timeline has been set or given, but best efforts were in process to resolve the matter.
On the previous date of hearing, the bench had asked the government official to follow up with the Deputy Chief of Mission (DCM) of Embassy of Saudi Arabia here (India), in order to expedite the process of exhuming the mortal remains of the deceased.
Justice Pratibha Singh, while hearing the plea, had observed that since the mortal remains are in a foreign country, no specific timeline can be given, but the MEA should co-ordinate with the Saudi authorities and expedite the matter.
“In view of the fact that the MEA official appearing today cannot provide a timeline, but emphasis has to be placed on the sensitivity of the issue and the MEA official should also coordinate with the Deputy Chief of Mission (DCM) of Saudi Arabian Embassy and request for a timeline,” Justice Prathiba Singh had said.
The court had also observed that the woman has been running from pillar to post, since passing away of her husband, and necessary steps ought to have been taken to bring back the body of the deceased to India to conduct the last rites.
Ms Anju had claimed in her plea that her husband Sanjeev had passed away due to cardiac arrest in Saudi Arabia, where he was working, on January 24 this year. She further claimed that after hearing the news, a request was made by the family members to repatriate the mortal remains.
However, on February 18, the family was informed that the body of Kumar has been buried in Saudi Arabia, while the family members were awaiting the mortal remains in India, the plea claimed.
The petitioner apprised the court that they were informed by the Indian Consulate there that an unfortunate mistake happened due to a translation error committed by the officials in Jeddah, wherein the late man’s religion was translated as ‘Muslim’. ILNS/ANB/SNG/RJ