The Supreme Court Monday asked the Jammu and Kashmir high court to consider either on Tuesday or within a week the plea of a man seeking a direction to exhume the body of his son, who was dubbed a terrorist and killed in an encounter in November 2021, and to permit the family to conduct last religious rites at the same graveyard.
A vacation bench of Justices Surya Kant and JB Pardiwala also requested the high court to consider the plea for the grant of compensation to Mohammad Latief Magrey for the death of his son Aamir Magrey.
The bench took note of the submission of senior advocate Anand Grover, appearing for the father of the deceased, that now he does want to press for the first relief that the body be allowed to be exhumed for performing last religious rites at the family graveyard.
"Now I have taken the instruction. The single-judge bench order was that I would be handed over the body and I will be taking that to my own graveyard. That portion of the order I am not pressing anymore.
Because, I am prepared to go the graveyard where he is buried and remains will be exhumed and re-entered and I will perform the religious rites myself there only...," the senior lawyer said, adding that there were judgments which say that the right to perform last rites lies with the family members.
The bench said that as the matter was listed for hearing before the high court on Tuesday, it will request the court to hear and decide the plea of Mohammad Latief Magrey either tomorrow or within a week thereafter.
"The counsel for the petitioner, at the outset, states that he does not want to press for the first relief granted by the high court for exhumation and handing over of the body remains of his deceased son...He, however, wants to perform the last rites as per the religious practices at the... graveyard where his son was buried," the bench noted in its order.
The bench disposed of the appeal without expressing any opinion on the merits and asked the high court to permit the counsel to appear through video conferencing mode.
Earlier on June 24, another vacation bench had agreed to hear the plea seeking exhumation of the body for performing the last rites by the family.
Grover had said that a single-judge bench of the Jammu and Kashmir high court had allowed the exhuming of his son's body but it was later stayed by a division bench.
He had said that his client has supported the Army all through his life, and the only need to exhume the body was to perform the last rites of his son Aamir Magrey, who was killed along with three others in the encounter.
On June 3, a division bench of the high court of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh stayed the single bench order for exhuming the body of Aamir Magrey and handing it to his family for last rites.
On May 27, the single judge bench had directed the Jammu and Kashmir authorities to make arrangements for exhuming the remains of the deceased from the Wadder Payeen graveyard in the presence of Latief Magrey.
The high court, however, had said 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 beliefs in the 'graveyard itself".
In that situation, the state shall pay petitioner Mohammad Latief Magrey a compensation of Rs 5 lakh for deprivation of his right to have the dead body of his son and give him a decent burial as per the family traditions, religious obligations, and faith which the deceased professed when he was alive, the single judge bench order had said.
Bodies of two more civilians, Altaf Ahmad Bhat and Dr. Mudasir Gul, who was killed in the Hyderpora encounter, were exhumed and returned to the families following an outcry days after the gunfight.
Four people were killed in the encounter on the outskirts of Srinagar on November 15, 2021.
While the police said all of them were terrorists and buried their bodies in Kupwara in North Kashmir, the families of the victims said that they were innocent civilians.