Court ponders Hindu man's funeral pyre plea

A Hindu fighting for the right to be cremated on a traditional funeral pyre took his case to the Court of Appeal today.

There he was told by a panel of judges headed by the Master of the Rolls, Lord Neuberger, that all he had to show was that what he wanted fell within existing law.



Spiritual healer Davender Ghai, 71, who believes that a pyre is essential to "a good death" and the release of his spirit into the afterlife, was refused permission to be cremated according to his Hindu beliefs by Newcastle City Council.



Mr Ghai, from Gosforth, Newcastle upon Tyne, lost his challenge at the High Court in London in May last year when Mr Justice Cranston ruled that pyres were prohibited by law and this was "justified".



Lord Neuberger asked Rambert de Mello, representing Mr Ghai, what his client wanted and was told that the funeral pyre would have to be of wood and be open to the sky but the site could be surrounded by walls and the pyre covered with a roof which had an opening.



Lord Neuberger said that if it could be shown that these requirements complied with the Cremation Act 1902, "that will be the end of the case".



The judge said the court would hear argument on that point alone before deciding whether to continue on human rights and discrimination points.



Jonathan Swift, representing the Ministry of Justice which is opposing the case, said the law stipulated that cremations must be within a building which in this case meant a structure bounded by walls with a roof.



What Mr Ghai was proposing did not comply with the law which was there to protect "decorum and decency", he told the judges.



The judges adjourned the hearing to a later date to give a ruling on whether Mr Ghai's proposals complied with existing law.



Lord Neuberger said the judgment may bring the proceedings to an end.



Mr Ghai, the founder of the Anglo-Asian Friendship Society (AAFS), seeks a permit for an open-air cremation site in a remote part of Northumberland.



In a statement issued before today's hearing, Mr Ghai said: "I want to clarify and enforce the law, not disrespect it.



"If natural cremations can be performed with absolute safety and consideration for others, then quite simply, why shouldn't they be allowed?



"Of course, this is a sensitive issue and I have tried to present my case in the most dignified and respectful way I can. I understand some people feel uneasy about faith minorities asking for special rights but I am not trying to be divisive or offend anyone.



"I am the first to insist that natural cremations should be performed with absolute safety, respect and privacy. I have tried to live with dignity my entire life, now I now yearn to die and be cremated with dignity too.



"I want my soul to arise from the flames like the mythical phoenix, not be incinerated in an industrial furnace."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: IT Support Administrator - East Riding of Yorkshire

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Support Administrator - East Ridi...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Manager

£35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Due to continuous expansion and growth o...

Recruitment Genius: Automotive Service Advisor - Franchised Main Dealer

£18000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This successful, family owned m...

Ashdown Group: Digital Marketing Executive - West London - £35,000

£28000 - £35000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A luxury fashion retailer based in W...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans campaign: Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after £300,000 gift from Lloyds Bank

Homeless Veterans campaign

Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after huge gift from Lloyds Bank
Flight MH370 a year on: Lost without a trace – but the search goes on

Lost without a trace

But, a year on, the search continues for Flight MH370
Germany's spymasters left red-faced after thieves break into brand new secret service HQ and steal taps

Germany's spy HQ springs a leak

Thieves break into new €1.5bn complex... to steal taps
International Women's Day 2015: Celebrating the whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

Whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

Simone de Beauvoir's seminal feminist polemic, 'The Second Sex', has been published in short-form for International Women's Day
Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

Why would I want to employ someone I’d be happy to have as my boss, asks Simon Kelner
Confessions of a planespotter: With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent

Confessions of a planespotter

With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent. Sam Masters explains the appeal
Russia's gulag museum 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities

Russia's gulag museum

Ministry of Culture-run site 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities
The big fresh food con: Alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay

The big fresh food con

Joanna Blythman reveals the alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay
Virginia Ironside was my landlady: What is it like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7?

Virginia Ironside was my landlady

Tim Willis reveals what it's like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7
Paris Fashion Week 2015: The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp

Paris Fashion Week 2015

The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp
8 best workout DVDs

8 best workout DVDs

If your 'New Year new you' regime hasn’t lasted beyond February, why not try working out from home?
Paul Scholes column: I don't believe Jonny Evans was spitting at Papiss Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible

Paul Scholes column

I don't believe Evans was spitting at Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible
Miguel Layun interview: From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

Miguel Layun is a star in Mexico where he was criticised for leaving to join Watford. But he says he sees the bigger picture
Frank Warren column: Amir Khan ready to meet winner of Floyd Mayweather v Manny Pacquiao

Khan ready to meet winner of Mayweather v Pacquiao

The Bolton fighter is unlikely to take on Kell Brook with two superstar opponents on the horizon, says Frank Warren
War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable