The Supreme Court on Friday released, on bail, four members of a family who were sentenced to life imprisonment for murdering a person who later surfaced to tell the court that he was alive. But the release came only after they had spent a decade in jail.
Granting the bail, a bench of Justice RM Lodha and Justice HL Gokhale said that the four members of the family who are in jail for almost a decade should not remain incarcerated even for a minute more.
Counsel Monoher Singh Bakshi appearing for the petitioners Dal Chand, Mohan, Ram Prasad and Rameshwar, told the court that this was a unique case wherein a family of four were facing life imprisonment for murdering someone when that person was alive.
At the time of the alleged murder of Bhagwan Das, Rameshwar who is the son of Mohan was 15 years 7 months and 19 days, Bakshi said.
Rameshwar’s uncle Dal Chand and his brothers Ram Prasad and Mohan and Rameshwar, of Jhansi in Uttar Pradesh, were allegedly involved in the murder of Bhagwan Dass, also a resident of the district, on Aug 2, 2000. They were convicted and awarded life sentence.
While they were undergoing their sentence in Agra Central Jail, it was revealed that Bhagwan Das was alive and working in a local market.
After the revelation that four people were suffering jail term on account of his alleged murder, Bhagwan Das moved every authority and told them that he was alive and the four convicted for his alleged murder were innocent.
However, his sons conspired and colluded with local police to have him declared dead in the revenue records so that they could inherit his property. As a consequence, the frightened Bhagwan Das ran away from the village.
Thereafter, his sons implicated Dal Chand and three others because of their long standing rivalry.
Though police have, since the fact of Bhagwan Dass being alive became known, promised a probe into the matter nothing has been done so far, Bakshi said.
Bakshi argued that police framed his clients on the basis of false statements of witnesses. He claimed that his four clients were illegally detained for so many years and demanded compensation to the tune of Rs.500,000 each for their rehabilitation.
He claimed that because of their conviction, the four had lost all their property and belongings. The apex court will deal with other aspects of the case later.