UK court allows Hindu prisoner to perform father's last rites

The case, believed to be the first of its kind, is expected to have wide-reaching repercussions on similar cases across the UK
London: In a first-of-its-kind case, a Hinduprisoner being held in a British jail has won the right to perform the last rites at his father's funeral following a major legal battle.
Joginder Paul Kashyap, serving a default prison sentence over non-payment of a confiscation order at Oakwood prison near the West Midlands city of Wolverhampton, was given immediate permission this week to be "chief mourner" and have his handcuffs removed to take part in the rituals of the Hindu
The 57-year-old had originally been told by the prison that he could only attend the cremation while handcuffed and accompanied by two guards.
He launched judicial review proceedings and a judge ruled earlier this week that the original decision was wrong.
"The claimant's handcuffs are to be removed in accordance with the terms set out in the Schedule to this Order," reads the court order by Justice Leggatt, sitting at the Administrative Court in Birmingham.
Kashyap's claim was backed by?the Hindu Council (UK), which gave scriptural advice on the basis that "it could not be in dispute that the eldest son performs the funeral rites where the offspring consists of sons and that he must be allowed to do so with dignity".
In a statement Kashyap said, "As eldest son, it is my sacred duty (indeed privilege) to act as 'chief mourner' and perform the requisite ritual to ensure my father receives a 'good death' according to our shared religious beliefs.
"The Chief Mourner (eldest son) alone must perform the requisite last rites necessary for the deceased's soul to be liberated and ultimately reincarnated. Without full and proper performance of the last rites, my father's soul cannot be liberated from his body or find peace.
"If I am handcuffed in my role as chief mourner, I will consider that an extremely bad omen and that I am not enabling a 'good death' for my father. His spirit will continue its journey encumbered as a result of being sent off by my own shackled hands," he said.
The case, believed to be the first of its kind, is expected to have wide-reaching repercussions on similar cases across the UK.
The prisoner's legal team had argued that the decision of the prison was incompatible with the European Convention on Human Rights.
"This is a case of considerable importance and as far as I am aware is the first time the court has had to deal with this issue," said barrister Tony Vijay Muman.
( Source : PTI )
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