A peculiar case came up before the Delhi High Court on Tuesday wherein the body of a Hindu man, an Indian citizen, was wrongly buried in Saudi Arabia as per Muslim rites due to incorrect translation of his religion on the death certificate by Indian Consulate officials in Jeddah.
The wife, who has been running from pillar to post to get the body, has approached the high court seeking direction to the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) to take steps to urgently exhume the remains and repatriate them to India in a time-bound manner.
Justice Prathiba M Singh said the woman has been approaching the authorities since January, after the death of her husband, and adequate steps ought to have been taken to bring back the body of the man to India to conduct the last rites.
"Accordingly, the concerned officer from the MEA not below the rank of deputy secretary shall join the proceedings on March 18 to apprise this court about the update on steps taken and status on transportation of mortal remains of the deceased," the judge said, adding that it was an "unfortunate" case.
The Indian man Sanjeev Kumar had died on January 24 in Saudi Arabia, where he was working, due to cardiac arrest, and his body was kept at a hospital there.
Petitioner Anju Sharma said in the plea that on getting the news of her husband's death, the family requested the authorities to repatriate the body.
Shockingly, on February 18, the Petitioner was informed that the body of her husband has been buried in Saudi Arabia while the family members were waiting for the body in India.
"The officials in Indian Consulate explained that it was due to a mistake committed by the official translator of Indian Consulate, Jeddah, who wrongly mentioned his religion as 'Muslim'' in the death certificate. They also shared a letter of apology tendered by the official translating agency of Indian Consulate in Jeddah with the petitioner herein," said the petition, filed through advocate Subhash Chandran K R and Yogamaya M G.
It also said that neither the woman nor any of the family members gave consent to bury Sanjeev Kumar's body in Saudi Arabia.
Thereafter, the woman requested the officials of the Indian Consulate in Jeddah to ask the local authorities there to exhume the body of her husband so that it can be transported to India for performing last rites as per the faith of the family.
"Unfortunately, even after seven weeks of the death of the husband of petitioner, the authorities have failed to do necessary formalities to repatriate the body of Sanjeev Kumar to India for performing last rites," the plea said.
It also sought a direction to the Centre to take appropriate departmental actions against concerned officials of the Indian Consulate at Jeddah for their wilful negligence and also direct the authorities to do appropriate actions for obtaining a corrected death certificate of the man and supply the document to his wife.