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British funeral pyre argument narrowed

Jan. 19, 2010 at 10:47 AM   |   Comments

LONDON, Jan. 19 (UPI) -- A British court will determine the definition of the word "building" as part of an effort by a Hindu man to plan an open-air funeral pyre, observers said.

A panel of judges, headed by David Neuberger, the master of the Rolls, told Davender Ghai, 71, Monday rather than having to prove such funeral pyres wouldn't offend British sensibilities, as was expected, all he will have to do is show they could fall within the existing law's definition of a building, The Times of London reported.

Ghai has been seeking the right to hold a Hindu "natural cremation" since 2006 after his initial request was refused by the Newcastle City Council. The Times said his legal team came to court prepared to argue the case on religious freedom grounds, but Neuberger reportedly indicated all Ghai needed to do was demonstrate he could construct a pyre that fit Britain's Cremation Act of 1902.

The law defines a crematorium as "any building fitted with appliances for the purpose of burning human remains." Neuberger said a compromise could be found on that definition under which some type of pyre could fit, The Times said.

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