A trial court on February 2001, in Madhya Pradesh's Bhind found Chote Lal guilty under an Arms Act case that was registered in 1996 and sent him to jail for two years.
His sentence got over in 2003. But even after eight years, Lal is still in jail. Thanks to protracted judicial proceedings and government apathy.
Taking serious exception of his plight, the Supreme Court has stepped in and sought an explanation from the Madhya Pradesh government over how Lal continues to languish in jail despite him completing his two-year sentence.
Acting on the request of Lal's advocate, a bench comprising justice Markandeya Katju and justice Gyan Sudha Misra expressed concern at the ‘forced' incarceration and asked the state whether his case was isolated or were there others in similar situation.
"It is a serious matter. Something is seriously wrong with the state. He has already completed two years of the sentence awarded but he is still in jail," the bench said.
Arguing for Lal, his counsel Rajesh Singh said his client had served his two-year sentence in 2003 and the state had failed to take appropriate steps for his release.
The trial court sentenced him on February 24, 2001. During his trial Lal was in jail for a month, between April 27, 1996 to May 16, 1996.
Lal was, however, sent to custody after a superior trial court dismissed his appeal in Spetember 2001
Even as Lal remained in jail, he appealed against his conviction before the Madhya Pradesh high court that took seven years to dismiss his appeal on July 14, 2008.
Subsequently he approached SC, appealing for his acquittal.
The apex courtdecided to take up the matter further after observing that it was a ‘serious case'.
"A prisoner was forced to languish in jail even after serving the full sentence, the state has to explain its stand as to why it happened and also come out with details if more such cases are there," the bench said.