Supreme Court errrs not once, twice, but thrice

The Supreme Court of India errs – not once, twice, but thrice.
It takes the Supreme Court a fourth attempt to get it right.

Supreme Court of India New Delhi, April 22, 2010

From the highest to the lowest, from the most intelligent to the greatest duffer on earth, any one can make mistakes.
Most of us do make mistakes.

After all, to err is human.
But to accept a mistake and correct it is divine.

In this glaring case of unprecedented injustice, the Supreme Court Judges made serious mistakes, not once, but three times. As a result, three innocent persons languished in jail for several months.

October 1991

In October 1991, a Sessions Court in Shivpuri, Madhya Pradesh convicted Bhoja, Pooran, Balvir and Raghuvir (along with four others  – Sugar Singh, Laxman, Onkar and Ramesh) and sentenced them to 6 years imprisonment on charges of rioting and culpable homicide not amounting to murder.

January 2003

The eight convicts appealed to the Gwalior bench of the Madhya Pradesh High Court In January 2003, the High Court acquitted all the accused.

The Madhya Pradesh Government accepted the acquittal of Bhoja, Pooran, Balvir and Raghuvir; but filed appeal before the Supreme Court against the acquittal of the other four.

November 7, 2008

A bench of the Supreme Court comprising Justices Arijit Pasayat, C.K. Thakker and L.S. Panta set aside the High Court order and held all the eight accused guilty in the case, even though

  • The Madhya Pradesh High Court had acquitted  Bhoja, Pooran, Balvir and Raghuvir;
  •  The Madhya Pradesh Government had accepted the verdict and had not filed any appeal against it, and
  • The issue relating to these four persons – Bhoja, Pooran, Balvir and Raghuvir – was not before the Supreme Court (Bhoja, Pooran, Balvir and Raghuvir were not even parties to the case).

Bhoja, Pooran and Balvir surrendered and were put back inside the jail.

March 9, 2010

Bhoja, Pooran, Balvir and Raghuvir  filed a review petition for reconsideration of the matter. The matter went to the same bench, which through another quirk of fate, released the four other persons instead of Bhoja, Pooran, Balvir and Raghuvir.

April 20, 2010

On April 20, Aftab Ali Khan, Advocate for the four accused pointed out the mistake to a bench comprising of  the Chief Justice K G Balakrishnan and three senior most judges, Justices S H Kapadia, Altamas Kabir and R V Raveendran. The Bench promised to examine the matter in May.

April 22, 2010

This matter was widely reported by the media.
In an unprecended move, the Bench comprising of the Chief Justice K G Balakrishnan and three senior  most judges, Justices S H Kapadia, Altamas Kabir and R V Raveendran, convened on an urgent basis, called the lawyers and passed order  “acquitting” Bhoja, Puran and Balbir, who had been languishing in jail due to two wrong consecutive orders passed by the Supreme Court in November 2008 and March 2010.

My humble request

At last a serious error has been corrected and justice has been done to the accused. Or has it been done ?

**    Was it not the duty of the Govt. prosecution to point out on each occasion that the courts orders were wrong, that wrong persons were being sent to jail ?

***  Was it not the duty of the Judges to do their home work ?

*** Was it not the duty of the Present Bench of the Supreme Court  to award damages on their own ?

Do the Supreme Court judges really expect the poor accused to engage in one more round of litigation for damages. Would they have the money and energy to file a case at all.

The Supreme Court should have been magnanimous to award damages to the wronged persons. They can pay such damages from the funds of the Supreme Court or direct the Govt. to pay the same.

But in my humble view, the Supreme Court should award the damages.
That is the least they can do now to rectify all the wrongs done.

Dr. Binoy Gupta, Retd. Chief Commissioner of Income Tax, Chennai

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3 thoughts on “Supreme Court errrs not once, twice, but thrice

  1. I would only like to reminisce, with respect to the former CJI and the Supreme Court of India, that the legendary Mr. Justice Bhagwati had long ago observed in his golden words in the famous case of Distributors (Baroda) Pvt. Ltd vs Union Of India & Ors [1985 AIR 1585 1985 SCR Supl. (1) 778;1986 SCC (1) 43 1985; SCALE (1)1216] as under:

    “To perpetuate an error is no heroism. To rectify it is the compulsion of
    judicial conscience. In this we derive comfort and strength from the wise and inspiring words of Justice Bronson in Pierce v. Delameter A.M.Y. at page 18: ‘a Judge ought to be wise enough to know that he is fallible therefore everyday to learn: great and honest enough to discard all mere pride of opinion and follow truth wherever it may lead: and courageous enough to acknowledge his errors’.”

    These principles and words would appear to have been lost in oblivion.

  2. How many of our judges, at least in the lower courts, and how many officers administering the huge number of laws enacted in India and the States also have that habit? As far as is known, the court made laws are neither respected, nor read, and, therefore, followed by a single law officer/quasi-judicial authorities in this country, and this practice is positively discouraged by their superiors. Hence the quotation in the comments of A.Banerjee is rather superfluous and irrelevant.

    But, may be, some reader will write to prove me wrong.

  3. TD Sharma’s comments are in a way complementary to the concluding observation of Shri A.Banerjee.
    I recall the experience of a newly appointed Member of the CAT having been denied HRA from the date of compulsory allotment of the newly built bungalow in the station where he was working.Since there was no Govt.accommodation available in the first place when the Member had assumed charge,he moved into his own small flat in the same city and claimed admissible HRA.
    The Chairman of the CAT,a Rtd. CJ of a HC, allowed the claim for HRA subject to the condition that the Member should move into the new Quarters (actually still under construction) as and when ready and allotted, failing which he would lose HRA.The Member’s plea, based on the Service Rules applicable to the CAT Members, was met with the terse reply: “My earlier order stands”..
    The HRA was allowed subsequently by the successor-Chairman, himself a Rtd.Judge of a HC, following a specific High Court Order.

    Judicial review is the essence of Juridical evolution…But,pride and prejucice, can mar the majesty of Law.

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