Under Trials : An Uncaring system


    There are over 70 Lakh prisoners in Indian Jails. Many languishing far beyond even the maximum sentence period.

Cases are postponed and pending for decades. Individuals languish in jails since they have no money to pay the bail account.

Tihar’s kid now a man: Free, but not home

Ambika Pandit TNN

New Delhi: This is a tumultuous tale of a runaway boy trapped in poverty in Bangladesh, who surreptiously crossed the border into India and took the train to Delhi. But, soon he lost his freedom, his youth — wallowing behind bars in Tihar. He was barely into his teens then, but has spent over 11 years in prison on charges of murder. And this, despite being a juvenile.
Now, Farooq is out of Tihar, but freedom is still a far cry. He has now been dumped into a foreign regional registrar office (FRRO) camp, waiting for deportation.
Last month, the Delhi High Court ordered his release after a bone ossification test done by AIIMS revealed he was actually a juvenile, when he committed the offence.
But even a fortnight later, he is languishing at the FRRO camp at the Shastri Nagar area of north Delhi. The High Court order may have spelt relief, but uncertainty has made him nervous. He is 25 years old now. He is confined to a dormitory with dozens of others like him, waiting for deportation. Tight security at the camp makes it appear like jail.
It’s a hellhole cramped with men. And there’s another dingy room occupied by women and children. There is little activity at the camp. All they do is to wait for the authorities to pack them off to the border.
Farooq wants to go back to Bangladesh and begin life afresh. He is carrying back the goodwill he earned at Tihar. He was even awarded three certificates last year for clearing competency test in carpet making. The certificates granted by the National Council for Vocational Training of the ministry of labour are Farooq’s prized possessions. He also learnt English and Hindi and hopes to use these skills for enhancing his career once back in Bangladesh. Farooq remembers the day he crossed over to India in 2000. “There was poverty at home and I decided to cross the border in search of livelihood. I reached Kolkata and from here I took a train to Delhi. After wandering around for a few days, I landed in a slum in the Govindpuri area and was hoping to get work,” he said.
But immediately after his arrival, Farooq was caught and put behind bars along with other Bangladeshis. He was charged with murder. The trial followed and in 2009, he was convicted. An appeal against the conviction was filed by the Delhi High Court Legal Services Committee in 2009 in the High Court. The court was perturbed to find that the youth has spent over a decade in jail, when as per law he should have been released after three years.
Relying on the ossification test done by the medical board, a division bench of Justices B D Ahmed and Veena Birbal said that Farooq was right in his defence that he was a minor at the time of the offence. But home seems to be near, yet so far for Farooq.