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Delhi HC directs MEA official to liaise with Saudi authorities to expedite exhumation of Hindu man wrongly buried

While the matter was being heard today, senior MEA official Vishnu Kumar Sharma informed the court that the death of petitioner’s husband occurred on January 24, 2021

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The Delhi High Court on Thursday directed a senior official of the Ministry of External Affairs to follow up with the Deputy Chief of Mission (DCM) of the Embassy of Saudi Arabia here in order to expedite the process of exhuming the mortal remains of a Hindu man who was wrongly buried in Saudi Arabia. 

“In view of the fact that timelines are not able to be given by official appearing today, it is in order to emphasize on the sensitivity of issue, MEA official also coordinates with Deputy Chief of Mission (DCM) of Saudi Arabian Embassy…and request for a timeline,” said a single judge bench of the high court presided over by Justice Prathiba M. Singh. 

The said directions were passed while the bench was hearing a petition filed by one Anju Sharma, who approached the court alleging that the remains of her Hindu husband, an Indian citizen, were wrongly buried in Saudi Arabia as per Muslim rites due to incorrect translation of his religion on the death certificate by Indian Consulate officials in Jeddah.

While the matter was being heard today, senior MEA official Vishnu Kumar Sharma informed the court that the death of petitioner’s husband occurred on January 24, 2021 and the death certificate was obtained by the employer of deceased and the translation of the same was also done by the employer.

“The fact that the deceased was buried in a non-Muslim graveyard, the local authorities were aware that the deceased was not a Muslim,” Sharma submitted before the court, countering claims made by the petitioner that Saudi authorities interpreted that the deceased was a Muslim. 

Sharma told the court that all possible efforts are being made to expedite the process of bringing back the mortal remains of the said deceased person. 

The court while fixing the matter for further hearing on March 24 asked the consulate to assist the family of the deceased on the subject of benefits available to them. The said direction came in after the court was informed by the senior MEA official that a monetary compensation amounting to Rs 4,68,000 would be given to the family of petitioner by the commissioner as per the procedure. 

On the previous date of hearing, the bench had asked the directed a senior MEA official to be present before it. 

Justice Prathiba M. Singh had said the woman has been running from pillar to post, since the passing 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 plea filed by Anju Sharma 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 explained to them 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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