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Centre informs Delhi HC: Efforts on to expedite return of remains of Hindu man mistakenly buried in Saudi Arabia

The court was hearing a petition of Anju Sharma, the widow of deceased Sanjeev Kumar, who was wrongly buried in Saudi Arabia, though he was a Hindu.

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The Delhi High Court on Wednesday was informed by the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) that its senior officials have recently met with top Saudi officials and efforts are underway to “expeditiously” repatriate the mortal remains of deceased Hindu man who was mistakenly buried in Saudi Arabia. 

The submissions were made by Vishnu Sharma, Director, CPV Division of the Ministry of External Affairs, before a single-judge bench of the high court presided by Justice Prathiba M Singh. 

Sharma, while appearing in person before the bench, informed that efforts are on to expeditiously repatriate the process to exhume the mortal remains of the deceased man. However, he also clarified that no timeline is set/given but best efforts are in process to resolve the matter.

The court was hearing a petition of Anju Sharma, the widow of deceased Sanjeev Kumar, who was wrongly buried in Saudi Arabia, though he was a Hindu.

Earlier, the bench had asked Sharma 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.

While hearing the plea, Justice Pratibha Singh had observed that since the mortal remains are in a foreign country, no specific timeline can be given, but the MEA should coordinate 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.

The petitioner, Anju Sharma, had claimed in her plea that her husband Sanjeev Kumar 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. 

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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’. 

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