SC allows followers to pay respect to GD Agarwal

Agarwal passed away on October 11 after undertaking a 111-day fast, demanding unrestricted flow of river Ganga. (File Photo)

The Supreme Court on Friday allowed followers of 'Save Ganga' crusader Prof GD Agarwal alias Swami Gyan Swaroop, to have 'darshan' and pay their last respect to the environmental activist who died after undertaking a 111-day hunger strike.

His body was retained by AIIMS, Rishikesh since his death on October 11, as he had pledged it for organ transplantation and teaching purposes.

A three-judge bench presided over by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi interacted with AIIMS' associate professors Mrinal Barua and Vivek Mishra to conclude that Swami's followers could be allowed to visit Rishikesh campus, in five-batch of 10 people on every Sunday.

The court said the maximum 500 people would be allowed to pay their respect for 10 Sundays since on weekdays, his body was being used for teaching purpose.

"This can safeguard sentiments of followers without causing any damage to the body, being kept for teaching and research purpose," the bench, comprising, Justices K M Joseph and Hemant Gupta, said.

Earlier, last Friday, the top court stayed a Uttarakhand High Court's order to hand over the body of Swami Gyan Swaroop to Matri Sadan for 76 hours, in order to allow his followers to pay their last respect to the deceased.

The top court passed its order within hours of the high court's direction after considering the matter in the chamber.

Agarwal had passed away on October 11 after undertaking a 111-day fast, demanding unrestricted flow of river Ganga.

On a plea by a counsel from AIIMS Rishikesh, the court had then said if the high court's order passed on October 26 implemented, it would make organs of the body of the deceased unfit for transplantation to other human beings.

Swami Gyan Swaroop's body has been embalmed and still kept at AIIMS Rishikesh.

The institute rushed to the top court after the order was passed by the high court on Friday.

Advocate Shirish Kumar Mishra gave an undertaking to the court on behalf of AIIMS to file a detailed special leave petition within days. He made an application for urgent consideration of the issue.

The high court's order was passed on a plea by Dr Vijay Verma, a follower of Swami Gyan Swaroop. The AIIMS had declined to allow Swami's followers to pay their last respect to the departed soul, except permitting the family members to see the mortal remains.

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SC allows followers to pay respect to GD Agarwal

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