Almost six weeks after doctors declared him dead, Ashutosh Maharaj continues to be in "samadhi" (deep meditation) for the managers of his Divya Jyoti Jagriti Sansthan (DJJS) dera here.
With the dera not ready to show the body of its guru to anyone, Dalip Jha of Bihar, who claims to be Ashutosh's son, now has moved the Supreme Court to claim the body for funeral according to the Hindu rituals. Jha's lawyer, Manoj Khattri, said the petition would come up for hearing on March 20.
"On behalf of Ashutosh's son, we have demanded that the CBI (Central Bureau of Investigation) should look into the death and the body be released to the family for cremation," Khattri said over telephone from Delhi.
Meanwhile, at the dera here, the authorities have returned the second mortuary box that they had hired on January 29 from the local Bhootnath Temple when the reports of Ashutosh's passing away had come out.
Temple caretaker Davinder Kumar confirmed that the second mortuary had been returned last week. Sources inside the dera said the management had now converted a room into a controlled-temperature zone to keep the shrunken body.
The dera spokesman stuck to the claim that the sect leader was in deep mediation. "We have firm faith that that he will come out of it," said Swami Vishalananda. The dera follows its old routine, including the weekly satang (discourse) every Sunday on the premises.
Legal experts say there's nothing in the law on whether or not a body can be preserved after death. High court lawyer SP Soi, counsel for the former driver of Ashutosh who is in a legal battle against the dera for the body, said that under Section 174 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC), the officer in charge of a police station had the authority to register a case upon information about a suicide, murder, fatal accident, or death under suspicious circumstances.
"In this case, the police have done nothing, maybe because of the pressure from the state government or any other issue," Soi said.