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Buried in Saudi: What steps taken till now, Delhi HC asks Centre

Sanjeev Kumar’s wife Anju Sharma, a resident of Himachal Pradesh’s Una district, has approached the court seeking exhuming of her husband’s body and bringing it back to India on an urgent and time-bound basis.

By: Express News Service | New Delhi |
March 17, 2021 3:05:47 am
On February 18, the petitioner was informed that the body of her husband had been buried in Saudi Arabia while the family members were waiting the body to be brought back.

THE DELHI High Court on Tuesday said adequate steps ought to have been taken by the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) by now to transport back the mortal remains of an Indian citizen, who died on January 24 in Saudi Arabia due to cardiac arrest and was buried there as per Muslim rites because of a translation mistake in the death certificate.

Sanjeev Kumar’s wife Anju Sharma, a resident of Himachal Pradesh’s Una district, has approached the court seeking exhuming of her husband’s body and bringing it back to India on an urgent and time-bound basis.

Observing that the MEA needs to act expeditiously in the matter, Justice Prathiba M Singh Tuesday ordered that a senior officer, not below the rank of Deputy Secretary, of the MEA will join the proceedings on Thursday to apprise the court of the measures taken in the case. The court turned down a request of government counsel for 10 days time to file a reply, as it described the incident as an “unfortunate case”.

“Considering the nature of the matter and that the petitioner has been representing such since January adequate steps ought to have been taken by now for transporting mortal remains,” said the court.

According to the petition, Kumar had been working as a truck driver in Saudi Arabia for the past 23 years. After his death, his body was kept in Beesh General Hospital, Jizan. Kumar’s wife, according to the petition, was asked to execute a power of attorney to complete the formalities of repatriation of the body and the same was done on January 28.

On February 18, the petitioner was informed that the body of her husband had been buried in Saudi Arabia while the family members were waiting the body to be brought back. “The officials in Indian Consulate explained that it was due to a mistake committed by the official translator of Indian Consulate, Jeddah who wrongly mentioned his religion as ‘Muslim’ in the death certificate,” said the petition.

Submitting that they never gave any consent to bury the body, the petition said that even after seven weeks, the Indian authorities have failed to do the necessary formalities to bring back Kumar’s body to India for the last rites.

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