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'A complete failure of the judicial system'

Sheela Bhatt in New Delhi | January 20, 2009 03:11 IST
Last Updated: January 20, 2009 13:27 IST

"This is a telling story of the complete failure of the state police and the judiciary," says P C Sharma, member of the Human Rights Commission. Sharma was talking about the story of four families that have been completely ruined because five of their family members have been wrongly convicted by the Punjab judiciary for the murder of a man known as Jagseer Singh, an incident that never happened.

The story which was first reported in The Tribune has drawn attention of National Human Rights Commission. It moved the members of the commission so much that the state has been asked to furnish all the details as soon as possible.

The sordid details of the story will shame everyone. Nachchatar Singh, his son Sheera Singh, Nikka Singh, Amarjeet and Surjeet Singh were convicted for the murder of  Jagseer Singh in 1996 in Barnala district of Punjab. All of them were farmers. When the team of the Bhadaur police of their area collected evidences claiming that these five had murdered Jagseer Singh, the accused were stunned. The police not only got a bogus witness named Amar Singh [Images] who claimed that he saw these five men committing the murder but also produced a dead body of the so-called victim who was murdered. After six years a senior policeman has recently found out that Jagseer Singh is alive. The senior superintendant of Police of Ludhiana (rural) Gurpreet Singh has accepted that a serious mistake has been committed by the police.

Sharma, a former chief of the Central Bureau of Investigation with extensive experience of policing says, "Even if the police failed in its duty how can the judiciary afford to fail so badly? I see this as an utter failure of the criminal justice system. One can understand the failure of criminal investigation but how come the fake case remained undetected in courts of law?"

The criminal lapses on part of police and judges have rendered four families homeless.

When Sheera Singh, one of the accussed went on parole he could not see his mother and wife struggling to make ends meet. He consumed poison and committe suicide rather than go back to jail.

Surjeet Singh's two daughters and parents died in the last five years because they could not get medical treatment. Sharma says, "It was very sad to hear that Nikka Singh's wife left him because he was jailed. She remarried because she did not know the truth."

Amarjeet Singh's children quit their studies because he was the only bread-winner in the family.

After spending five years in the Barnala jail, when the five are finally set free, all they will see is their ruined families, lost or dead relatives, diminished assets and irreversible loss of time.

The Tribune report said the police had conducted the panchanama of a body stating it to be that of Jagseer Singh. If that person is now alive, then whose body was it that the police had branded as Jagseer's?

Sharma told "We will prepare the case once we get the facts. We will make sure that all four jailed innocents get proper compensation to reclaim their land, properties and income.

"We will request the system in the state to take stern action against the police officers who made out such a fake case leading to so many tragedies."

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