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Hindu man mistaken for Muslim buried in Saudi Arabia, wife approaches Delhi HC seeking repatriation of mortal remains

The wife of the deceased man has sought court intervention to get her husband's mortal remains in Saudi Arabia exhumed and repatriated back to India

A peculiar case has come up in Delhi High Court where a widowed wife has sought the mortal remains of her husband to be shipped to India from Saudi Arabia, where he has buried following his death. According to the woman, her Hindu husband was wrongly buried in Saudi Arabia as per Muslim rites due to an erroneous translation of his religion on the death certificate by the Indian Consulate in Jeddah.

The wife has moved the Delhi High Court seeking directions to the MEA to take steps to urgently exhume the remains and repatriate them to India in a time-bound manner, so that she and her family can perform the last rites as per Hindu traditions.

A bench of Justice Pratibha M Singh while hearing the petition also instructed the counsel representing the MEA to file a status report with the details of the steps taken towards addressing the wife’s concerns. Justice Singh remarked that the woman has been approaching the authorities since January after her husband’s passing away, and adequate steps should have been taken to address her grievances.

Bench slated the matter for Thursday, March 18 while refusing to give MEA 10 days of time to sort out the matter. It also suggested the MEA to have a senior official attend the proceedings on Thursday.

“Accordingly, the concerned officer from the MEA not below the rank of deputy secretary shall join the proceedings on March 18 to apprise this court about the update on steps taken and status on transportation of mortal remains of the deceased,” the judge said.

Sanjeev Kumar, an Indian citizen, had passed away on January 24 this year at his workplace in Saudi Arabia. He died due to diabetes, hypertension and cardiac arrest and the mortal remains were kept in Beesh General Hospital, Jizan, Saudi Arabia.

In her petition, the woman alleged that on getting the information of her husband’s death, her family members had asked the concerned authorities to repatriate the mortal remains. Later, the woman was asked to execute a Power of Attorney for completing the formalities of repatriation of mortal remains of Sanjeev Kumar and the same was done on January 28, the petition said.

However, on February 18, the wife was informed that the body of her husband has been buried in Saudi Arabia even as she was waiting for his mortal remains in India. The officials in the Indian Consulate explained that it was due to a mistake committed by the official translator of the Indian Consulate, Jeddah, who wrongly mentioned his religion as ‘Muslim’ in the death certificate.

Besides, the Consulate also shared an apology letter by the official translating agency with the petitioner. The petition said neither the woman nor any of the family members gave consent to bury Kumar’s body in Saudi Arabia. Thereafter, the woman requested officials in Jeddah to ask the local authorities there to exhume the mortal remains. 

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