Ashutosh case: Punjab to file review petition in HC

  • Pawan Sharma, Hindustan Times, Chandigarh
  • Updated: Dec 10, 2014 16:38 IST

The Parkash Singh Badal government on Tuesday decided to file a review petition against the Punjab and Haryana high court order setting the December 17 deadline for the Jalandhar district administration to perform last rites of Ashutosh, the ‘clinically dead’ head of Nurmahal-based Divya Jyoti Jagriti Sansthan (DJJS), according to well-placed official sources.

After sansthan doctors declared Ashutosh clinically dead on January 29, the management has been keeping his body in a deep freezer, saying that their spiritual head has gone into ‘samadhi’ (deep meditation). His mortal remains are still in the custody of the sansthan.

Top government sources told Hindustan Times that Punjab advocate general Ashok Aggarwal was on Tuesday handed over a “formal sanction letter” regarding the decision of the SAD-BJP government to petition the high court at the earliest, seeking among other issues a clarification about how to implement the December 1 ruling of justice MMS Bedi and the major administrative hurdles in following this order in letter and spirit.

Ever since the high court constituted a committee headed by the Jalandhar district magistrate and directed it to carry out the last rites of Ashutosh within 15 days, the state government has been grappling with this emotive issue that can cause a major law and order problem, especially in the Doaba region.

As the bench of justice MMS Bedi had directed the Punjab chief secretary; principal secretary, home; secretary, health; secretary, local bodies; and director general of police to supervise the compliance of the court orders, senior police and civil administration functionaries have been holding back-to-back meetings since Monday.

The government’s contention is that its role comes into play in cremating the body if it is unidentified or unclaimed. “The government does not want itself to be dragged into this contentious issue. This is a very tricky matter in which the government will be at the receiving end unnecessarily. And the government wants to avoid this situation,” a well-placed government source said.

The committee constituted by the court to carry out the orders comprises the district magistrate, sub-divisional magistrate, senior superintendent of police, municipal commissioner and chief medical officer, all officers from Jalandhar district.

The court had directed the committee to make necessary arrangements for disposal of the body by getting the services of any religious person and sought compliance of the order.

Another major contentious point bothering the government is how to cremate the body as the high court order is vague on this issue. As per Hindu scriptures, there are many ways of conducting the last rites of spiritual masters. “So what procedure should be followed in Ashutosh’s case? Thus, there are a host of issues about which the government needs clarity,” sources in the government said.

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