Thirty five years ago, a murder convict sentenced to life imprisonment had walked out of a jail in Uttar Pradesh after spending only 11 months behind the bars and allegedly did not return to serve the remaining prison term.
Krishna Deo Tiwari, now around 70-year-old, was released by the Basti district jail authorities on January 9, 1979, despite no such order from the court or the government.
To solve this mystery, the Supreme Court has now ordered a CBI probe into the release of Tiwari from the prison.
“The facts of the case at hand prima facie suggest that there is a deep-rooted malaise prevalent in the state of UP. No other inference can be drawn if a convict committed to jail can secure his release from custody in the manner noticed in the present case. It is unfortunate that agencies that are charged with the duty of upholding the rule of law are themselves involved in this kind of a racket,” said a bench of Justices T S Thakur and R Banumathi.
The apex court rejected Tiwari’s claim that he was released on parole and that he returned to serve the life sentence, noting that his release was “shrouded in mystery and unsupported by any record whatsoever”.
It is learnt that Tiwari was released by the jail officials on a “bail bond” without any bail order.
“We have, therefore, no manner of doubt that there is a serious flaw in the entire process leading to the alleged release of the convict in 1979… All these aspect need a thorough investigation,” it added.
The court was hearing a petition by activist Amrit Singh, who had brought to light the manner in which Tiwari was released.
Tiwari had shot dead a man in Basti in March 1978 and was sentenced to life term by a trial court.
The High Court had upheld the punishment in November 1979, but not before Tiwari was released from the prison in January.
There is no document to show that he surrendered later.
“The only way the true facts can be discovered and the involvement of those who may be responsible for the sordid affair exposed and brought to book is to direct an inquiry by the Central Bureau of Investigation,” said the bench, asking the probe agency to file its report in three months.
It also ordered that the CBI officer, heading the probe, “would do well to take custody of the relevant records” from the prison “before the said record is destroyed or tampered with”.