Afterlife cremation Death + the Law

Open Air Cremations UK Style

Funeral Pyres judgment Reserved
BBC News (January 18, 2010)

Hindu Fights for Open-Air Cremation
Metro (January 18, 2010)

Last week, a really interesting and potentially important court case appeared before a British Appeals Court. A British Hindu man, Davender Ghai, wants permission from the Newcastle City government to have his body cremated on an open air pyre, which was banned in 2006.

There are several interesting angles to this story. First and foremost, every reason that the UK Courts have given as to why the open air cremations should not go forward is suspicious. Health and safety concerns can be easily monitored and controlled. Indeed, a health and safety officer could be dispatched to make sure that the law was followed and that the public health codes were not violated.

Perhaps the most significant (and unspoken) reason that the UK Courts have sided against Mr. Ghai is squeamishness. Given the fact that any number of UK Death Professionals (and I know of which I speak) could make sure that any open air cremation followed any and every conceivable best practice, the resulting reason seems to be that Court officials find the basic concept distasteful.

Unfortunately, that is not a legal reason to ultimately block Mr. Ghai’s funeral pyre wish.

The Appeals Court is expected to rule later in 2010.

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