HC pulls up various parties for deadlock on Ashutosh's last rites

The Punjab and Haryana high court on Monday expressed surprise over the deadlock on performing the last rites of Ashutosh, the "clinically dead" sect head of Nurmahal (Jalandhar)-based Divya Jyoti Jagriti Sansthan (DJJS), and castigated various parties for the stands taken by them.
Ashutosh-Maharaj-the-head-of-Divya-Jyoti-Jagriti-Sansthan-has-been-kept-in-a-freezer-since-his-death-in-January-2014-HT-Photo
Ashutosh-Maharaj-the-head-of-Divya-Jyoti-Jagriti-Sansthan-has-been-kept-in-a-freezer-since-his-death-in-January-2014-HT-Photo
Updated on May 25, 2015 08:40 PM IST
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Hindustan Times | By, Chandigarh

The Punjab and Haryana high court on Monday expressed surprise over the deadlock on performing the last rites of Ashutosh, the "clinically dead" sect head of Nurmahal (Jalandhar)-based Divya Jyoti Jagriti Sansthan (DJJS), and castigated various parties for the stands taken by them.

During the resumed hearing, the division bench of justice SK Mittal and justice HS Sidhu observed that all parties could have come out with an amicable solution on the issue by now instead of adjudicating the matter in court, adding that they should have sat together and discussed the issue.

"Who will decide rape and murder cases if we have to hear such cases for years?" the division bench asked various parties as the high court bench was apprised of the grounds of appeal by them.

The sect head was declared "clinically dead" by doctors in January 2014. His mortal remains are lying in a deep freezer on the dera premises in Jalandhar district since then, with his followers claiming that he is in 'samadhi' (state of deep meditation). A single-judge bench of the high court had on December 1, 2014, directed the Punjab government to cremate Ashutosh within 15 days. However, on December 15, a division bench stayed the order on an appeal from the DJJS, Dalip Kumar Jha, who claims to be the sect head's son, and the Punjab government.

The DJJS has challenged the single-judge order, stating that the sect head was in deep meditation and not dead. Jha, on the other hand, wants the mortal remains, claiming to be Ashutosh's son. The government has submitted that when there were claimants for the mortal remains, it should not have been directed to perform the last rites.

During the hearing, the high court also reminded the Punjab government that it could not wash its hands off over the issue and should have performed the last rites. But the state argued that it could not do so as there were apprehensions of a law and order problem, keeping in view Ashutosh's mass following.

"There could be someone (whose father has just passed away), who thinks his father is not dead and would come back. Will you also allow him to keep the body?," the high court asked, reminding various parties that not only as per Hindu rituals but also in other faiths keeping bodies for long was seen as disrespect to the deceased. The high court also posed questions to the parties as to how many such instances (keeping the body in the freezer) they had heard of in India and across the world.

"There had been many respected saints in the past as well. But their funeral was conducted with rituals of their faith," the court observed. The hearing has further been adjourned for July 18 and the stay on performing the last rites would continue.


Faith in deep freeze

Ashutosh, sect head of Divya Jyoti Jagriti Sansthan (DJJS), based at Nurmahal in Jalandhar district, was declared "clinically dead" by doctors in January 2014

His mortal remains have been lying in a deep freezer on the dera premises in Jalandhar district since then, with his followers claiming that he is in 'samadhi' (state of deep meditation)

A single-judge bench of the high court had on December 1, 2014, directed the Punjab government to cremate Ashutosh within 15 days

On December 15, a division bench stayed the order on an appeal from the DJJS, Dalip Kumar Jha, who claims to be the sect head's son, and the Punjab government.

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