In a tragedy of errors, the Supreme Court has replaced one wrong order with another.
First, it passed an apparently illegal order convicting eight persons in a criminal case without hearing four of them.
Then, acting on a curative petition — a last resort to rectify a judicial wrong, devised by the top court itself — it recalled that order. But in the process, it made another blunder: it ordered the release of the very four whose acquittal was challenged.
The other four, whose acquittal wasn’t challenged and who are by all rights free men, remain in jail. Three of these four victims came to court on Tuesday to point out the error in the order. However, they will remain in jail till May first week, when the court takes up their plea.
“We’ll correct it if there is any mistake,” said the CJI.
The case goes back to 1989 when the eight were booked for murder in an MP village. In 1999, a sessions court convicted all eight and sentenced them to life. But in 2003, the high court acquitted all of them. The state challenged the acquittal of only four in the SC.
In November 2008, a three-judge SC bench headed by Justice Arijit Pasayat (since retired) overruled the HC verdict and convicted the eight. And in March 2009, a four-judge bench recalled that order — only to give another wrong one.