Pro-active action by Virender Singh, Chief Justice of the Jharkhand High Court, has helped reach justice to those who never dreamt they would get it
By Ramesh Menon
When his nine-year-old daughter staggered home severely injured and bleeding, her father, a poor laborer, was overwhelmed with shock at what she told him. She had been raped by a driver who abducted her and assaulted her by the banks of a nearby river.
The distraught father registered a case with the police in August 2015. He also took his daughter to a local hospital near Hathipada village in East Singhbhum district of Jharkhand. But doctors were unable to stop her bleeding and she was rushed to Jamshedpur. There too doctors battled to save her and finding that her intestines were severely damaged rushed her to Ranchi. There she underwent a colostomy to remove the damaged intestine and attach a colostomy bag.
After she was discharged, her father had to take her for her daily dressing to a doctor four kilometers from home. As he lived in a Maoist-infested area, there was no public transport plying and he had to physically carry her as he did not even own a cycle. His meager savings had depleted by then and he was finding it difficult to treat her. He was forced to sell his livestock.
Sometimes, a simple pro-active and positive action from the judiciary can work a miracle. When Virender Singh, Chief Justice of the High Court of Jharkhand, read about the plight of the father and girl in the Hindustan Times, Ranchi, he admitted the news item as a public interest litigation taking suo motu cognizance on August 29 though it was a non-working day. He ordered the state administration to pay an interim compensation of one lakh rupees on the same day before sundown to the father of the victim. He also directed that the Jharkhand State Legal Services Authority ensure that the best medical assistance, care and protection were provided to the victim.
As the court had ordered action, the district administration provided a job card to the father under MNREGA, a bicycle, a blanket, clothes and financial assistance for the construction of a house under the Indira Awas Yojna.
That’s not all. When well-known cardiologist Dr Naresh Trehan, chairman of Medanta-The Medicity at Gurgaon, heard of the medical plight of the girl, he said that he would adopt her and ensure her free treatment at Medanta in Ranchi. Justice Virender Singh referred to this act in his speech at the recent India Legal Conclave in Ranchi applauding her treatment that was the best available in India at the high-profile hospital and also that two psychologists worked on getting the girl tide with her trauma.
The Governor of Jharkhand, Droupadi Murmu, who was at the India Legal Conclave, pledged to provide funds for the girl’s schooling and healthcare after listening to the heart-rending story.
Earlier, as news travelled about the plight of the girl and her poor parents, donations poured in. The father now has Rs 40.64 lakh in his account which will go for the welfare of the girl in the years to come.
Justice Singh had this point to note: “This is access to justice. The pain that she suffered cannot be alleviated by pecuniary compensation. But we did whatever we could do within the parameters of the law to achieve that end. When you hit your bed in the evening, your conscience asks you, ‘Judge, what have you done today?’ And the answer comes forth, ‘yes, I have done something’, and you go to bed with a calm mind.”
Surendra Sardar, the 42-year-old rapist, was soon arrested and sentenced to rigorous life imprisonment. The sentence would run till his death, the court said as he had tried to rape another minor. The wheels of justice had come full circle.
In another case that deserves mention, Justice Virender Singh directed a couple who wanted a divorce to stay in one room together for a few weeks. When they underwent that advice, they reconciled and realized it is better to be together than live apart. Both are now happily working together as para-legal volunteers counseling warring couples. Justice Singh pointed out that breaking up of a marriage was not only a tragedy for a couple but for their children too, and so it is important for family courts to dig deeper into each case and try to save the marriage rather than break it.
Lead Photo: Virender Singh, Chief Justice of the Jharkhand High Court, addressing the gathering at the India Legal Conclave in Ranchi