The Punjab and Haryana High Court on Monday stayed the order of a single judge on cremation of Nurmahal-based Divya Jyoti Jagriti Sansthan sect head Ashutosh Maharaj. His body will continue to remain in the deep freezer till February 9.
The division bench comprising acting Chief Justice Shiavax Jal Vazifdar and Justice Augustine George Masih posted the three petitions, filed by DJJS, the Punjab government and Dalip Kumar Jha, challenging the single judge order for further consideration to February 9.
After hearing the arguments of Punjab’s Additional Advocate General Rita Kohli, the Division Bench said, “You (state) are the most aggrieved” and added “we’ll have to read all three petitions”.
On December 1, Justice M M S Bedi had declared that Ashutosh Maharaj had died a natural death on January 29 and had directed the Punjab government to cremate his body within 15 days of getting court orders. The deadline was December 17.
Earlier, on January 29, DJJS doctors had declared Ashutosh Maharaj alias Mahesh Kumar Jha clinically dead, after which the DJJS management had kept the body in a deep freezer, stating that the spiritual head had gone into a “samadhi” (deep meditation) and would come out .
During the arguments on Monday, raising several questions on the single judge order, Rita Kohli averred: “Nowhere anybody had prayed that the state government be directed to cremate the body. The prayer was only to the extent of handing over the body or for getting the post-mortem performed.”
She further said, “Before this, four petitions on the issue had been dismissed by this Hon’ble court, including the two filed by the driver (of Ashutosh Maharaj), Puran Singh. The court did not chose to decide the issue.” The court was informed that the HC had already declared there was no locus standi of the so-called son of Maharaj, Dalip Kumar Jha.
At the same time, Dalip Jha, who claims himself to be the biological son of Maharaj, had submitted that the single judge had wrongly denied his prayer for getting his DNA test conducted. “The Supreme Court judgment in N D Tewari’s case with regard to DNA test need to be applied in Mahesh Kumar Jha’s case, “ argued his counsel S P Soi on Monday.