Updated: May 12, 2021 1:20:24 pm
The Ministry of External Affairs on Wednesday told the Delhi High Court that the body of an Indian citizen, who died in Saudi Arabia in January and a month later was buried there despite being a Hindu and without his family’s consent, was received today morning. The mortal remains of Sanjeev Kumar are currently being transported to Himachal Pradesh’s Una district, the court was told.
Kumar’s wife Anju Sharma had earlier approached the High Court seeking return of the body from Saudi Arabia. In the petition, it was stated that he had been working as a truck driver in Saudi Arabia for the past 23 years and died in January due to cardiac arrest. After his death, his mortal remains were kept in Baesh General Hospital, Jizan.
Sharma, as per the petition, was asked to execute a power of attorney for completing the formalities of repatriation of mortal remains and the same was done on January 28. However, the Una resident was informed on February 18 that he has been buried there due to a mistake in the translation of death certificate which identifed his religion as ‘Muslim’.
Director of Consular, Passport and Visa Division of MEA, Vishnu Kumar Sharma had last month informed the court that they have initiated diplomatic efforts for exhumation and return of Kumar’s body to India and legal proceeding have also been started in Jizan Region on behalf of the family by the Indian Consulate. The MEA officer on Wednesday told the court that the body was received today morning.
“It is a great relief for the court also,” said Justice Prathiba M Singh, while disposing of the matter and appreciating the efforts made by authorities to ensure the return of Kumar’s body to India.
The MEA officials earlier had also told the court that the translation of the death certificate was done by Kumar’s employer but same is inconsequential as the authorities in Saudi Arabia were aware about his religion since he has been buried in a non-Muslim cemetery.
The court was also told that Indian Consulate is usually informed about the death of an Indian citizen and the body is not buried unless an NOC is issued by the Consulate. However, Kumar’s body was buried without informing the Indian consulate perhaps due to the COVID-19 protocol, the officials had told the court.
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