Tuesday, July 23, 2024

Delhi HC directs MEA to circulate SOP for repatriating mortal remains of Indians dying abroad

The Delhi High Court has directed the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) to post on its website and widely circulate the standard operating procedure (SOP) followed for repatriating the bodies of deceased Indians who pass away in a foreign country.

A division bench of Justice Najmi Waziri and Sudhir Kumar Jain was hearing a plea addressing concerns related to the death of an Indian man in the Maldives.

The court said that these guidelines should be made easily accessible to the public.

While the bench urged airlines operating in India to consider hosting the SOP on their websites for the benefit of Indians travelling overseas, it also said that information about a welfare fund set up for the purpose of repatriation should be made readily available.

The court said: “… Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) and the ‘Guidelines on Indian Community Welfare Fund established in Indian Missions/Posts Abroad’ should be accessible and widely circulated in the public domain.

“Therefore, the MEA is directed to prominently post and make accessible the said SOP and Guidelines on its website, if not already available, within one week from the date of receipt of copy of this order.”

Meanwhile, the counsel representing the Centre informed the court that the SOP for transporting the mortal remains of Indian tourists and workers is already in place.

The court observed that in the case of Indian tourists, the Indian Missions usually coordinate with the deceased person’s family.

In the case of a worker, coordination is established between the nominated family members of the deceased, the insurance company, and the employer, while the Indian Mission closely monitors the entire process.

In exceptional circumstances when resources are limited, the Missions and MEA make suitable arrangements, often utilising the Indian Community Welfare Fund established by the respective Mission.

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