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.
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.
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