Srinagar, May 27: The Jammu & Kashmir High Court on Friday ordered exhumation of the body of Amir Lateef Magrey, one of the four persons killed in controversial Hyderpora encounter.
A single bench of Justice Sanjeev Kumar directed the government to make arrangements for exhumation of the body/remains of the deceased Amir Latief Magrey from the Wadder Payeen graveyard of Handwara in presence of his father. “The respondents shall also make appropriate arrangement for transportation of the dead body to the village of the petitioner for according burial in his native graveyard in accordance with the traditions, religious obligations and religious faith which the deceased professed during his life time provided it is in deliverable state,” reads the order.
“Since the dead body of the deceased must be in advance stage of putrefaction, as such, it would be desirable that the respondents act with promptitude and do not waste any further time,” the judge directed.
The Court, however said, authorities are free to impose any reasonable terms and conditions in respect of exhumation, transportation and burial of the dead body of Amir Latief Magrey.
The Court said that if the body is highly putrefied and is not in deliverable state or is likely to pose risk to public health and hygiene, his father and his close relatives shall be allowed to perform last rites and the state shall pay to him a compensation of Rs five lakh for deprivation of his right to have the dead body of his son.
“Since the dead body of the deceased must be in advance stage of putrefaction, as such, it would be desirable that the respondents act with promptitude and do not waste any further time. However, if the body is highly putrefied and is not in deliverable state or is likely to pose risk to public health and hygiene, the petitioner and his close relatives shall be allowed to perform last rites as per their tradition and religious belief in the Wadder Payeen graveyard itself. In that situation, the State shall pay to the petitioner a compensation of Rs. 5 lakhs for deprivation of his right to have the dead body of his son and give him decent burial as per family traditions, religious obligations and faith which the deceased professed when he was alive,” the Court ordered.
The Court said the decision of the authorities not to allow the petitioner to take away dead body of his son to his native village for last rites was per-se arbitrary and falls foul of Article 14 of the Constitution of India.
The Court observed that authorities have not come clear as to why the dead bodies of two of the four killed in the encounter, namely, Altaf Ahmad Bhat and Dr. Mudasir Gul were exhumed and handed over to their relatives for their last rites in the graveyards of their choice and why the similar right claimed by the petitioner was denied.
“The respondents have tried to draw distinction by submitting that as per the investigation conducted by the SIT, the deceased son of the petitioner was a confirmed terrorist whereas the other two killed, namely, Altaf Ahmad Bhat and Dr. Mudasir Gul were only associates of the terrorists. I do not find any logic or sense in distinction so made by the respondents. It transpires that due to public pressure and demand by the relatives of the two deceased namely, Altaf Ahmad Bhat and Dr. Mudasir Gul, the respondents relented and permitted their dead bodies to be exhumed and handed over to their relatives. Since the petitioner was a resident of Gool, a remote village in Jammu Province and did not much say in the Valley and, therefore, his request was arbitrarily turned down. The action of the respondents is not traceable to any procedure established by law which is just, fair and equitable. At least none was brought to the notice of this Court,” the judge said.
The judge observed that right of the next of kin of the deceased to have their dear one cremated or buried as per the religious obligations and religious belief that the dead person professed during his life time, is part and parcel of right to life guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution of India.
“The parents and close relations of the deceased are well within their right to demand the dead body of their dear one to be cremated or buried as per their traditions, religious obligations and religious belief. This right would also include the choice of the relatives to have the dead body cremated or buried at his native place. It is not uncommon that the graves of the dead are maintained by their relatives and are visited by their relations and close friends to pay respect and homage on certain occasions,” the court observed.
Meanwhile, Amir’s father, Muhammad Lateef Magray said that he along with his family are very much satisfied with the decision of the court and hopefully very soon we will bury him here at his native village. He added that no body from government has contacted them so far.