Petrol from polythene: Court rules on fraud but not on claim

May 11th, 2009 - 10:04 am ICT by IANS  

By Rana Ajit
New Delhi, May 11 (IANS) Have two Indians actually discovered a way to make petrol out of polythene waste? In an unusual ruling, the Supreme Court, while ordering trial of two Madhya Pradesh men for allegedly defrauding two Dalits of their “invention” to make petrol from polythene bags, has kept quiet on the authenticity of their claim.

A bench of Justice Tarun Chatterjee and Justice H.L. Dattu restored the prosecution of the two men - Sanjay Singh and Jayendra Singh - on grounds of having hurled casteist insults on the two Dalits after cheating them of their “discovery”.

The prosecution of the two Singhs, begun at a magisterial court in Gohad, had been stalled by the Gwalior bench of the Madhya Pradesh High Court.

The apex court ruling - delivered Friday - while ordering restoration of trial of the two on charges of defrauding the Dalits of their discovery, strangely kept mum on its authenticity.

The Gohad magisterial court began the prosecution on a private complaint of Ram Babu, who alleged that the two Singhs had defrauded his sons Devendra Pratap and Munendra Pratap of a scientific process invented by them to make petrol out of polythene bags.

Reproducing Ram Babu’s allegation at the magisterial court, made on April 25, 2006, the apex court said in its ruling: “His (Ram Babu’s) sons produced petroleum products from polythene and they demonstrated their invention at different levels by participating in various science competitions and also received recognition and reward from various organisations.”

The apex court further quoted Ram Babu as saying in his allegation that “On Dec 5, 2005, Sanjay and Jayendra requested his sons to hand over the photos of the model for production of petrol from polythene to them so that they can get it published in newspapers.

“Ram Babu’s sons conceded to the request but, to their surprise, accused Sanjay and Jayendra got the invention published in their own name and affixed their own photographs, for taking direct or indirect benefits, by committing forgery,” said the apex court. In his complaint, Ram Babu named two local newspaper reporters as plotting with the Singhs and getting the news of the discovery published.

As per Ram Babu’s complaint, noted the apex court, the two Singhs also won a reward of Rs.10,000 from the state government, but when his sons demanded their model be returned, the Singhs made casteist remarks like ‘chamar’ etc to them and threatened to kill them.

After producing Ram Babu’s complaint in detail, the apex court ruling proceeds to examine the legality of the high court order that stopped the magisterial court from prosecuting the Singhs and the journalists. But in the process, the court forgot all about the “invention”.

The Gwalior bench of the Madhya Pradesh High Court had stopped the Singhs’ prosecution saying, in a brief order, that it amounted to “the abuse of the process of law”. But the apex court set aside the high court order saying that the reason given by it for stopping the trial was too cryptic.

The apex court eventually ordered resumption of trial at the magisterial court and sought its completion within nine months. But not a word was uttered about the “invention”.

Engrossed in the legality of the case, the apex court even said, “The question at this stage is not whether there was any truth in the allegations (made by Ram Babu), but the question is whether on the basis of the allegations, a cognizable offence or offences had been alleged to have been committed by the accused persons.”

So, was the invention real? One will have to wait till the lower court decides.

(Rana Ajit can be contacted at

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