The Punjab and Haryana high court on Tuesday asked the Divya Jyoti Jagriti Sansthan (DJJS) to come forward and offer a solution on the deadlock over the last rites of Ashutosh, sect head of a Noormahal-based dera, who was declared clinically dead in January 2014.
During the resumed hearing on Tuesday, the high court bench of justice S K Mittal and justice MS Chauhan observed that the courts could not decide the matters of faith and religion. “It is a case of faith not evidence. This is not our domain. We have to respect the sentiments of the disciples. But at the same time, can we settle the issue in an amicable manner to set an example before the world?” the high court bench observed while asking the dera to deliberate on the issue and revert by the next date of hearing on November 30.
The high court bench further observed that the dera head could be given honourable last rites. A “samadhi” and a temple as per the wishes of his disciples could also be constructed. However, the bench hinted that keeping the body in a freezer might not be a workable solution.
Earlier, the court also hinted that a committee of seers and medical practitioners could also be set up to look into the demand of keeping the body in a “samadhi”, which would visit places where the disciples are claiming that such bodies have been preserved.
Adjourning the matter for November 30, the high court asked the Divya Jyoti Jagriti Sansthan to deliberate upon an amicable solution to end the deadlock.
On December 1, 2014, a single-judge bench of the high court had declared Ashutosh clinically dead and directed the Punjab government to make arrangements for cremation within 15 days. The mortal remains of Ashutosh are lying in a deep freezer on the dera premises. His followers claim that he was in a “Samadhi” (state of deep meditation) and had challenged the cremation order.
The Punjab government, too, had filed a petition challenging the single-judge order. The third party in the case, Dalip Kumar Jha, who claims to be the sect head’s son, is demanding performing the last rites of Ashutosh.
Speaking to media after the hearing, Divya Jyoti Jagriti Sansthan spokesman Vishalanand said they would deliberate on the issue and apprise the court on the next date of hearing.