Call it a sweeping sentence.
A court in north Bihar’s East Champaran district on Wednesday ordered a convicted fair price shop owner to sweep clean a public ground and prune bushes on it. It also fined him R5,000.
The ruling by the Motihari town-based court of Raxaul sub-divisional judicial magistrate (SDJM) was in keeping with out-of-the-book sentences being handed out in Bihar to ‘clean up the corrupt system’.
Trader Shamsuddin Mian was convicted in a case of diverting public distribution system (PDS) items such as food grains and kerosene allotted to him between December 1984 and March 1985.
Hearing the case against him, SDJM Mahesh Prasad Singh ordered him to clear the garbage dumped in Gandhi Maidan adjoining the court, and prune the bushes there. He also instructed Shamsuddin to procure a certificate of adherence to the court’s order from the local administration or spend six months behind bars.
Shamsuddin lost no time in picking up a broom and cleaning Gandhi Maidan, the only open space in the town for morning walkers. “It is better to clean the field than languish in jail. After all, I too use this ground for walking,” he said.
The town’s lawyers have welcomed the unique order of the court. “The sentence is a message to the corrupt as also Motihari Nagar Parishad, which has failed in the upkeep of the ground,” one of them said.