A Challenge to British Cremation Laws

25 March 2009

Satvinder Juss is currently involved in a Judicial Review challenge which will examine British cremation laws that prohibit natural open-air funeral pyres. The right to religious freedom is protected under Article 9 of the Human Rights Act 1998, and Article 14 prohibits discrimination in the exercise of this right. At the moment, Christian and Muslim members of the British community have burial grounds allocated for their dead specific to their particular religious affiliation. Hindus, Sikhs and Jains, who have traditionally in India used open-air cremations, currently have to cremate their dead in gas crematoriums with the ashes then often taken to India for immersion in rivers. Whilst the majority are happy to continue doing so, Davender Kumar Ghai, has mounted a challenge, with the support of the Anglo-Asian Friendship Society, which if successful, would require local authorities to provide grounds outside major towns where open-air funerals could be held with full attendant rites and rituals in accordance with religious tradition. Satvinder Juss represents an Intervening Party in the action. The case has already attracted widespread publicity in the UK and India.