Funeral Pyre for Sikh Man in Northumberland Opens Legal Battle

July 12, 2006

Source: BBC News

On July 12, 2006 BBC News reported, "An open-air cremation of a young Sikh man has been held at a secret location in Northumberland sparking a legal row. The funeral pyre of Rajpal Mehat, 31, took place in a remote field on Wednesday after Northumbria Police gave permission on 'humanitarian grounds'. But the Department for Constitutional Affairs said the ceremony was 'unlawful' and police later admitted the service 'may' have been illegal. Open-air funeral pyres have been illegal in the UK since 1930... Before the service Northumbria Police spoke to Mr Mehat's relatives and said they were satisfied the death was not suspicious and that the organisers had complied with legal requirements. Superintendent Graham Smith said: 'In respecting the values and beliefs of all faiths we did not wish to cause any additional upset to a grieving family. 'This meant all our inquiries were carried out in an extremely sensitive manner before the service got under way. 'Following further investigation, we believe offences may have been committed under the Cremation Act in relation to where human remains can legally be cremated. 'We are now discussing the matter further with the community, our partners and the local authorities.'"