The Punjab and Haryana high court has directed Punjab advocate general Ashok Aggarwal to reply by April 4 whether or not an inquest report was required to find out the cause of the mysterious death of Mahesh Kumar Jha “Ashutosh Maharaj”, spiritual head of Nurmahal’s Divya Jyoti Jagriti Sansthan.
An inquest is a legal investigation to establish the circumstances surrounding a death, including how, when and why it occurred.
Under section 174 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC), the local police carry out the investigation and inform the nearest executive magistrate.
The directions for the inquest proceedings came from the court headed by justice MMS Bedi on Tuesday, as it issued a notice of motion to the state government on a petition filed by Puran Singh, former driver of Ashutosh Maharaj, to put the CBI (Central Bureau of Investigation) on the case and bring the body out of freezer for autopsy.
On January 29, the sansthan doctors had declared Ashutosh Maharaj clinically dead. When the petitioner’s counsel, SP Soi, argued that investigation could also be carried out without the first-information report (FIR), the court also directed the senior superintendent of police and the station house officer (SHO) concerned to file replies.
The petitioner had submitted that the dera management had kept Ashutosh’s body in a refrigerator illegally to usurp sansthan’s property worth 1,000 crore, and not allowed anyone to enter the place.