New Delhi, Mar 24 (PTI) The Centre on Wednesday told the Delhi High Court that it has met with senior Saudi officials here to expedite the exhumation and repatriation of the remains of a Hindu man, who was buried in Saudi Arabia as per Muslim rites.
The submission was made before Justice Prathiba M Singh by the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) which also told the court that no timeline has been given by the Saudi officials with regard to exhumation and repatriation of the remains of the Indian citizen and the government was trying to expedite the same.
In view of the submission by MEA, the court listed the matter for hearing on April 5.
The court was hearing a case in which the mortal remains of the Hindu man were wrongly buried in Saudi Arabia as per Muslim rites due to incorrect translation of his religion on the death certificate purportedly by Indian Consulate officials in Jeddah.
The deceased's wife, who had been running from pillar to post to get the mortal remains, approached the high court seeking direction to the MEA to take steps to urgently exhume the remains and repatriate them to India in a time-bound manner. The court had on March 18 asked the MEA to coordinate with the Deputy Chief of Missions of Saudi Embassy here to facilitate the exhumation and repatriation of the remains.
The high court had also requested the Deputy Chief of Mission to obtain some timeline within which the process of exhumation and repatriation of the body would be completed.
The Director of Consulate Passport Visa, MEA had earlier told the court that there was no clarity on the timeline within which the body could be brought back to India and also assured the court that the matter was being followed up by them.
The officer had also said that as per the existing protocol in Saudi Arabia, an Indian citizen's body cannot be disposed of without obtaining an NOC from the Indian Consulate. However, in this case, the procedure was not followed, he had said.
Sanjeev Kumar died on January 24 in Saudi Arabia, where he was working, due to cardiac arrest and his mortal remains were kept at a hospital there.
Petitioner Anju Sharma, represented by advocate Subhash Chandran K R, has said in her plea that on getting the news of her husband's death, the family requested the authorities to repatriate the mortal remains.
'Shockingly, on February 18, the petitioner was informed that the body of her husband has been buried in Saudi Arabia while the family members of the deceased were waiting for the mortal remains in India.
'The officials in 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. They also shared a letter of an apology tendered by the official translating agency of Indian Consulate in Jeddah with the petitioner herein,' said the petition, filed through advocate Yogamaya M G.
It also said that neither the woman, nor any of the family members gave consent to bury Kumar's body in Saudi Arabia.
Thereafter, the woman requested the officials of Indian Consulate in Jeddah to ask the local authorities there to exhume the mortal remains of her husband so that they can be transported to India for performing last rites as per the faith of the family.
'Unfortunately, even after seven weeks of the death of the husband of petitioner, the authorities have failed to do necessary formalities to repatriate the mortal remains of Sanjeev Kumar to India for performing last rites,' the plea has said.
It also sought direction to the Centre to take appropriate departmental actions against officials concerned of the Indian Consulate at Jeddah for their willful negligence and also direct the authorities to obtain a corrected death certificate of the deceased and supply the document to his wife. PTI HMP DV DV