A Bareilly court has taken 29 years to sentence two men to five years in jail for a theft of Rs 370 from a man they had drugged in a train on 18 July 1988, as reported by The Times Of India.
The court of the additional district and sessions judge in Bareilly has also fined the accused Rs 10,000 each. A third accused died in 2004.
The incident took place on 21 October 1988 when Chandra Pal, Kanhaiya Lal and Sarvesh had offered Wajid Husain tea laced with drugs. He was on a train from Shahjahanpur to Punjab for a job. The three accused had then stolen Rs 370 from the pockets of Husain.
Speaking to the Times Of India, Additional district government counsel Suresh Babu Sahu said, “A FIR was lodged against three people under IPC Sections 379 (theft), 328 (causing hurt using poison) and 411 (dishonestly receiving stolen property). In 2004, it came to light that Pal had died. Then the case was transferred to the court of the additional district and sessions judge against Kanhaiya Lal and Sarvesh.”
59-year-old Husain had last come to the court in 2012 to depose against the accused. The surviving accused, Lal and Sarvesh, are in their sixties now. They have grown up children in their native village, Hardoi in Uttar Pradesh.
Both the accused have expressed repentance about the mistake they had committed. The 29-year long trial had been a harrowing experience for both of them. The real punishment for them was not the five-year jail sentence that was awarded to them but the extended trial that stretched for such a long time.
According to law ministry data, there are more than 2.8 crore cases pending in the lower courts of the country and 38.7 lakh cases in high courts across India. One of the primary reasons for this huge number of pending litigations is the lack of adequate amount of judges in subordinate courts. Around 5000 judge posts are remaining vacant when the sanctioned strength of judicial officers is 21,324.
This issue brings to the forefront the lackadaisical attitude of the Indian judiciary. With the shortage of judges, the Indian judicial system is unable to deliver justice in a stipulated time frame.
The Logical Indian community condemns the delay that went in for imparting justice in this particular case. One wonders who should be held responsible for the trouble that the accused have been facing for the last 29 years. Such an extended period of trial is problematic for anyone, especially if the person is from a financially backwards class.