Chandigarh: The Punjab and Haryana High Court today stayed the order of a single judge on cremation of Nurmahal-based Divya Jyoti Jagriti Sansthan sect head Ashutosh Maharaj.
As the matter came up for hearing, a division bench of the court comprising acting Chief Justice Shiavax Jal Vazifdar, who took oath today itself, and Justice Augustine George Masih stayed the December one order of Justice M M S Bedi of the court to cremate the sect head within 15 days.
On December four, the Sansthan had moved an application before the court seeking extension of time for 30 days to enable the Sansthan to challenge the order passed by the single judge of the court on performing last rites of Maharaj. Justice Bedi had on December one directed the Punjab government to perform the last rites of the ‘godman' within 15 days.
On December 1, while pronouncing the order on the matter, the court had earlier directed constitution of a committee under the District Magistrate to look into the matter and asked the DGP and chief secretary to monitor the situation. The court had also observed that religious sentiments of the followers should not be hurt.
On January 29, Sansthan doctors had declared Ashutosh alias Mahesh Kumar Jha clinically dead, after which the Sansthan management kept the body inside a deep freezer, stating that he had gone into ‘samadhi'.
One of the petitioners, Dalip Kumar Jha, had moved the high court in April, seeking the release of mortal remains of “his father” to him for performing last rites and also a probe to ascertain the cause of his “mysterious death”. Another petitioner, Puran Singh, claiming himself to be the spiritual head's former driver, had also approached the high court, seeking a CBI probe into the death of Maharaj.