Six wasted years in jail, family seeks no compensation

March 20th, 2008 - 5:38 pm ICT by admin  

New Delhi, March 20 (IANS) They spent six years in jail accused of a crime the court ruled they had not committed. But the family of one of the two men says they have no stomach for a legal battle to seek compensation from the state. After facing trial for all these years, a court here Tuesday acquitted Ved Prakash Sharma as well as Ved alias Kalu in the case involving the 1999 murder of journalist Shivani Bhatnagar.

The prosecution argued that the two men were very much part of the plot that led to the murder. The court, which convicted disgraced police officer R.K. Sharma and three other men, disagreed.

The families of the men who got discharged are celebrating but have a question to ask: was it fair to keep the two, who have been found not guilty, in jail for so long? Will the state now compensate them?

“Our legal system is so sluggish that even a case in a fast track court takes nearly six years to reach a conclusion, thereby hampering the freedom of a man,” despaired D.B. Goswami, a lawyer dealing with criminal cases.

Ved’s family are enjoying his freedom.

“We are happy that finally justice prevailed. My husband has suffered a lot in these years and I just can’t express my happiness in words,” his wife Kusum told IANS.

Asked if she will move the court for compensation because of his long internment, she said: “We are happy he (Kalu) is back. We don’t want to get into another legal tangle.”

This is not the first time when people have been acquitted after a long trial. In most cases, however, those who secured freedom did not approach the judiciary for compensation.

“We have gone through mental trauma and financial crisis during these six years,” said Kusum. “Who will give us back the respect we have lost in society?”

Ved Prakash Sharma and Ved alias Kalu were property dealers in Gurgaon when the police picked them up on charges of being accomplices in the murder of Bhatnagar, who then worked for The Indian Express newspaper.

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