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Baba in freezer | Advocate general to write to speaker for legislature’s view

punjab Updated: May 09, 2017 08:55 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times
Punjab and Haryana high court,dispute,disposal of mortal remains

The spiritual head of Divya Jyoti Jagriti Sansthan (DJJS) is clinically dead since January 29, 2014. The dera claims its founder is in “deep meditation”.(HT File Photo)

The Punjab advocate general Atul Nanda on Monday told the Punjab and Haryana high court that he would write to the assembly speaker for putting matter before the legislature as to what should be done in disputes over disposal of mortal remains of a person.

Nanda was responding to a question from the high court bench of justice Mahesh Grover and justice Shekher Dhawan during the resumed hearing of appeals in Divya Jyoti Jagriti Sansthan (DJJS) head Ashutosh’s case.

The division bench had referred to a single-judge order in which it was recorded that it was high time that the legislature should take up the exercise of framing legislation pertaining to the disposal of bodies and constitution of an appropriate forum to determine the disputes regarding disposal arising between his family members and well wishers taking into consideration the values and beliefs and religion of the deceased.

“The legislature must ponder over it. Whether such legislation should come or not, it is up to them but at least the matter should be put before them,” Nanda said, adding that he would write to the speaker on this. Punjab’s next assembly session is expected in June.

“There is no law in India to deal with such disputes,” Nanda replied to another query of the division bench as to what should be done if a dispute arose between two brothers over the right of disposal mortal remains of their father.

The Punjab government, the DJJS and Ashutosh’s purported son Dalip Kumar Jha have filed appeals against the single-judge order of December 1, 2014, on cremation. Ashutosh was declared clinically dead on January 28, 2014, and since then his mortal remains are lying in a freezer on the dera premises.

Nanda also argued that practice of preservation of bodies had been prevalent in India since ages. Even among saints, highest form of dignity to such a person would be to preserve his mortal remains, he said. There are practices in a particular religion where bodies are put to vultures. But again, it is part of religious beliefs of a particular community,” Nanda said on an argument whether preservation would amount to disrespect to the mortal remains.

He also argued that in the case, the purported son had not been able to establish his bona fide and there were just followers who remained before the court now. “The son’s wish is not before you, you have one wish of followers,” Nanda said, arguing that followers be allowed to preserve the body. He also argued that the court declared Ashutosh clinically dead, but there was no plea for such a declaration. The arguments will continue on Tuesday as well.

First Published: May 09, 2017 08:54 IST