Image courtesy of The Daily Mail
In March 2007 Justice Sir Andrew Collins granted Baba Ghai permission to take his landmark judicial review to the Royal Court of Justice in London. Justice Collins accepted that pyres were, “not necessarily unlawful,” and that the claim was, “in the public interest,” as it raised issues, “of considerable importance to the Hindu community…and it will not go away.” Justice Cranston heard Baba Ghai’s full claim during a 3 day hearing on 24-26th March 2009.
Image courtesy of Phil Noble/Reuters
The landmark judicial review, considered the most significant religious freedom case n British legal history, has been led by barristers Ramby de Mello, Tony Muman and Andrew Singh Bogan.
Once the law is clarified, regulated and designated natural cremation sites could be available to all members of the public, irrespective of colour, creed or caste. In contrast to the suburban setting of gas crematoria, natural cremation grounds would be sited on private, discreet and peaceful semi-rural pastures.
Trained volunteers would ensure all public safety issues are professionally handled.
Natural cremation will free mourning families from the spiraling costs of gas cremation (a rising national average of £2000) and AAFS has negotiated with funeral directors to pledge a cap of £500.
The Anglo Asian Friendship Society Bereavement Fund will also pay the funeral costs for widowed & low-income families.
Opinion amongst British Hindus and Sikhs was divided when Baba Ghai lodged the judicial review application in 2006. Since then, even staunch opponents such as the Hindu Council UK have been won over and reversed their former policy, stating that, “individual choice of those Hindus who wish to follow the ancient Hindu scriptures and wish to have open air funerals should be honoured.”
Their U-turn came after support was forthcoming from eminent religious authorities support such as ‘Hindu Pope’ (and HCUK Spiritual Counsel) Shankaracharya Dibyanand and Professor H.R. Sharma of Banaras Hindu University.
Before the trial begun, a consensus of over 90% of every Hindu organisation in Britain wrote in support of Baba Ghai’s claim.
In response to protests amongst certain British Sikhs, the President of the ‘Sikh Parliament’ at the Golden Temple in Amritsar formally urged the Indian Prime Minister to lobby for British natural cremation grounds.
Prof. Satvinder Juss also addressed the High Court on behalf of a corpus of Sikh gurdwaras, led by Mr Gulzar Singh Sahota of Hitchin Ramgharia Gurd wara.
Inorder to prevent this sensitive issue from being hijacked by scaremongering and political opportunism, every effort has been taken to consult only with registered charities.
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