BY: SANJEEV VERMA
The Punjab and Haryana High Court’s order to award compensation of Rs 5 lakh to Kurukshetra resident Ram Sarup for his “malicious prosecution” for the rape and murder of his own minor daughter in 1993 has come too late. Neither Ram Sarup nor his wife Javitri, who worked as farm labourers to earn two square meals for their five children, is alive.
Although Ram Sarup was acquitted by the trial court in 1997, he had to suffer much indignity and remain in prison for a year and nine months. Helped by a social worker, he moved the high court in May 1999, seeking compensation for violation of his rights and dignity at the hands of the Haryana police.
On February 9, the high court ordered the Haryana government to pay compensation of Rs 5 lakh to Ram Sarup within a month, with 9 per cent interest, from the date of institution of the petition. The government has been directed to recover the money from the then Kurukshetra SP Anant Kumar Dhull, and the then Pehowa SHO-cum-investigating officer Gian Singh for fabricating the case.
Ram Sarup died in 2008 and his wife in 2009. His advocate R S Bains was not aware of this fact when the judgment came.
When The Indian Express team visited Lohar Majra village in Pehowa, the address mentioned in the petition, it came to know that the family had left the village in 1994 for Beer Dandari village in Karnal district, after threat from police and the killers of his sister.
Ram Sarup is survived by four daughters and a son, all married. His son Dharma (45) said, “We never expected any compensation… But now when it has come, our father is no more alive.’’ His wife Jashodha said, “Police and the then village sarpanch, whose brother was involved in the case, connived and offered Rs 1 lakh to withdraw the case, but my father-in-law (Ram Sarup) refused and decided to fight to earn back his lost dignity.’’
Dharma alleged that his father was pressured by former Assembly Speaker Ishwar Singh and SP A K Dhull to own the crime of rape and murder of his own daughter. Ishwar Singh died in 1998. His son Tejvir Singh said, “The case is not in my knowledge…not be appropriate for me to comment.’’
In 1994, social worker Sudesh Kumari moved the high court requesting a CBI inquiry. On the court’s order in 1996, the CBI took over the case and found that police had falsely implicated Ram Sarup. Though the Kurukshetra court acquitted Ram Sarup in August 1997, the “real culprits” got away. The CBI found that the local police had not collected any evidence regarding the involvment of the suspects named by Ram Sarup.
Advocate R S Bains said since the petitioner and his wife were not alive, the compensation would go in equal proportion to his legal heirs, who include four daughters and a son.