The home department’s alleged lapses came as a breather for former Congress minister Yogendra Sao on Friday after the state advisory board declined to extend the period of Sao’s preventive detention citing three-day delay in his production.
The state government had on January 20 invoked provisions of the Jharkhand Crime Control Act (JCCA) against Sao taking him under preventive detention. The government’s decision attained finality after the state advisory board approved Sao’s detention for a period of three months which ended on April 18.
Sao, currently lodged in Jayaprakash Narayan Central Jail in Hazaribag, was charged with running and promoting an extremist group — Jharkhand Tiger Group.
Chief minister Raghubar Das, also holding the home ministry portfolio, had approved Hazaribag deputy commissioner’s recommendation for imposing CCA against Sao, who was allegedly involved in several criminal cases of serious nature.
On Friday, Sao was produced before the state advisory board comprising three members headed by a sitting high court judge for extension of the period of preventive detention. But, the board declined to extend Sao’s detention citing the three-day delay in Sao’s production before it.
“Sao’s preventive detention for three months ended on April 18, but he was not produced before the board on that day. In fact, he was produced three days later on April 21. This broke the continuity of his detention period which did not exist after April 18. The board, therefore, can’t extend the detention once it is over,” said a member of the advisory board.
“The administration concerned can’t feign ignorance because they must be knowing when the period of detention ends. The entire sequence of events indicates that the government doesn’t want to extend Sao’s preventive detention,” said advocate Sameer Saurabh of the high court.
The government had invoked CCA against Sao on the ground that Sao was running an extremist group and was involved in several cases of kidnapping, extortion and murder, and therefore, his release would be a threat to society at large. It was also alleged that Sao had been instigating villagers under Hazaribag district to agitate against a Nav Ratna company, which created law and order problem.
In September last year, Sao and her legislator wife Nirmala Devi had allegedly provoked villagers to attack a police team when it reached Barkagaon block in Hazaribag district to arrest Nirmala Devi who was sitting on a dharna. The police team, however, had to open fire in which four villagers were killed. Later, the police booked the couple and arrested them.
The state advisory board’s order paved the way for the release of Sao, who had secured bail in all criminal cases lodged against him.
The government in November, 2015, had also attempted to invoke CCA against Sao, but the state advisory board disapproved it declaring the grounds of detention as insufficient.