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"Cannot Be An Unending Thing": Delhi High Court Directs For Alternate Remedies To Family Of A Man Incorrectly Buried In Saudi Arabia

Shreya Agarwal
5 April 2021 12:44 PM GMT
Cannot Be An Unending Thing: Delhi High Court Directs For Alternate Remedies To Family Of A Man Incorrectly Buried In Saudi Arabia
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A Single Bench of Justice Prathiba Singh of the Delhi High Court today directed the Ministry of External Affairs to expedite and suggest alternate legal remedies for the process of exhumation and transport of the remains of one Sanjeev Kumar, an Indian migrant who was allegedly incorrectly buried as per Muslim rites in Saudi Arabia upon his death there in January this year.Noting that despite...

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A Single Bench of Justice Prathiba Singh of the Delhi High Court today directed the Ministry of External Affairs to expedite and suggest alternate legal remedies for the process of exhumation and transport of the remains of one Sanjeev Kumar, an Indian migrant who was allegedly incorrectly buried as per Muslim rites in Saudi Arabia upon his death there in January this year.

Noting that despite the directions passed in this regard earlier by the Court to request the Deputy Chief of Mission to obtain timelines for the process, the MEA had failed to procure any, the court said, "It can't be an unending thing."

Represented by the Director (Consulate, Passport, Visa), the MEA informed that Court that it had been in touch with the Saudi officials, who were also doing their best to act on it as soon as possible, "but the authorities who have to decide are different."

He said, "I share the anguish of the family but following the diplomatic protocols we are doing our best."

He also said that the Consul General of the Indian Embassy had spoken to his counterpart in Saudi and that they had been checking for updates on the matter through "Whatsapp and phone every 3rd or 4th day."

Expressing concern, the Court said that this process was not helping, and asked the Director if it was possible for the Consul General to approach the court there. The suggestion was turned down by the Director who submitted that the Consul General could not do so and could only pursue the matter diplomatically, however, the man's family was free to approach.

Earlier, the Director had informed the court that, "The Consulate General in Jeddah have done their best to follow the procedure, as soon as we got the approval we contacted the employer to send the body", however, they had not received replies in this regard from the Saudi authorities yet.

He had also informed that not only for the burial, but even the transportation of the dead body required a No Objection Certificate (NOC) from the Indian Consulate and that the deceased person's body in the present case was buried even before the issuance of the NOC here.

Making it clear that the MEA would be sticking to the diplomatic process only, he had said, "It is another sovereign country and we have to wait for their decision. They haven't got back to the embassy till yesterday. They have their own procedure. Unfortunately, we can't give a timeline. We are unable to know why it has happened. Normally without NOC they can't move the body, but due to Covid-19 they're not keeping the bodies." He had added, however, that the Saudi authorizes hadn't confirmed to the Indian consulate that they won't be keeping bodies, even if the decision was part of any Covid-19 protocol.

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