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Centre tells Delhi HC: Legal proceedings initiated in Saudi Arabia over erroneous burial of Hindu man

Amicus Farukh Khan suggested that the court should lay down guidelines to deal with similar cases in the future.

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ILNS: The Central government informed the Delhi High Court on Thursday that legal proceedings have been initiated in Saudi Arabia and the coordinates of the burial site have been ascertained, while the Court was hearing the plea, seeking repatriation of mortal remains of a Hindu man, who was wrongly buried in Saudi Arabia.

A Single-Judge bench of Justice Prathiba M. Singh, while hearing the matter, was informed by Vishnu Kumar Sharma, Director, Consular, Passport and Visa (CPV) Division of Ministry of External Affairs (MEA), that legal proceedings have been initiated in Saudi Arabia and the coordinates of the burial site have also been ascertained. Mr Sharma said that Indian authorities are in touch with Saudi authorities regarding the instant matter. 

The Court has also appointed Advocate Farukh Khan as Amicus Curiae and listed the matter for further hearing on April 29. 

Amicus Farukh Khan suggested that the court should lay down guidelines to deal with similar cases in the future.

The Counsel for the petitioner also submitted that the interim compensation awarded to the family has still not paid. Following which, the Court has directed that the interim compensation should be paid within three days. 

The plea was filed by Anju Sharma, who claimed that her husband Sanjeev Kumar passed away due to a cardiac arrest in Saudi Arabia, where he was working, on January 24 this year. She 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 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”. 

The court had earlier observed, “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.”

Sharma had earlier said that there was no clarity on the timeline within which the body could be brought back to India and also assured the court that the matter was being followed up by them. The officer had further said that as per the existing protocol in Saudi Arabia, an Indian citizen’s body cannot be disposed of, without obtaining an NOC from the Indian Consulate. However, in this case, the procedure was not followed, he added. 

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