Terming the act of keeping the body of Ashutosh Maharaj, spiritual head of a Nurmahal-based dera, in a deep freezer for over eight months after he was declared clinically dead as a ‘big hoax’, the Punjab and Haryana high court has remarked that such ‘outlandish things’ bring ‘shame and disrespect’ to the nation.
Hearing the case, justice K Kannan said on Wednesday, “The body is being disrespected and the state is becoming party to it and bringing shame to the nation…There is nothing spiritual in it…You must carry out inquest and take the case to the next stage. There is some procedure to be followed when allegations of mysterious death are there.”
The court was hearing the petition filed by Divya Jyoti Jagriti Sansthan spiritual head’s son Dalip Kumar Jha seeking his father’s mortal remains and inquiry into the cause of the ‘mysterious death’.
On January 29, the sansthan doctors had declared Maharaj clinically dead after which the sansthan management had kept the body in a deep freezer, saying the spiritual head had gone into samadhi (deep meditation).
The state government had taken the stand before the court to maintain status quo about keeping the body of the spiritual head in the deep freezer as per the wishes of his followers saying the state did not want to play with the sentiments of his followers and wanted to avoid any law-and-order problem.
Justice Kannan expressed that it was amusing to observe that the “body is being retained without burial on specious grounds that he (spiritual leader) is in samadhi” and “you (state government) are giving a dimension to it that cannot be given”.
Refusing the state government’s request to give an extended date for the next hearing in the case, justice Kannan said, “It is a matter of urgency so that the things are not allowed to drift as has been done till now.” While fixing the case for September 2 and accepting the sansthan’s request to allow it to file the reply, the judge made it clear that no request for adjournment would be accepted after that date.
However, the state government, in its reply submitted to the court on Wednesday, reiterated its stand of maintaining the status quo and said that a petition filed by spiritual head’s ex-driver Puran Singh raising similar issues was already pending for hearing before the other bench of the high court.
It was also informed that in the past the high court had dismissed some petitions on the similar issue, one of them filed by Ludhiana-based tailor Gurmail Singh, who wanted to know how the spiritual head had gone into samadhi.