After Patna HC steps in, Bihar woman may reunite with son declared dead twice
Munni Devi, 27, has been fighting a legal battle to be reunited with her son, who is now seven, and her struggle may now be at an end, after the intervention of the Patna high court.
A woman, whose five-month-old son was separated from her when she was sent to jail in connection with the alleged murder of her husband in 2015, is finally hopeful of getting back the child who was declared dead by the police, municipal authorities and the local panchayat representatives -- not once, but twice.
Munni Devi, 27, has been fighting a legal battle to be reunited with her son, who is now seven, and her struggle may now be at an end, after the intervention of the Patna high court to the Gaya police chief.
With the court convinced that the child is alive after seeing the picture and documents produced by Munni and expressing this in as many words, Gaya SSP Harpreet Kaur swung into action and the child was recovered from the home of her late husband’s parents. He is now housed at a childcare home.
Munni went to the Magadh Medical police station to see her son. “I wanted to take my son in my lap, but I controlled myself. I understand that he cannot recognise me, as I was separated from him when he was just five months old. But I was all along convinced that he is alive. I also managed to see him secretly a few times in the last six years ever since I was released on bail and so I fought from a lower court to the high court despite the authorities producing false certificates about my son’s death,” she said, adding she was waiting for the next date of hearing in the high court.
Her story seems to suggest the complicity of local officials in efforts to show the child was dead.
“They told me that my son passed away barely three months after I got jailed. The entire society seemed to connive against me. The Patna Municipal Corporation issued a death certificate, while panchayati raj representatives certified the death earlier this year,” Munni said.
Munni, who was sent to jail when she was just 20, said that she could fight the case as her father, who has a small dairy business in the village Godawri under Rampur police station in Gaya, supported her. “I was falsely implicated in the murder of my husband, as the body was found from my parents’ house at Kathautia-Ghutiatola of Magadh Medical police station on the road. All my family members were arrested on May 24, 2015. My father-in-law Kishori Yadav lodged a named FIR against all of us. I got bail from the Patna HC nine months later and started searching for my son. I asked my in-laws, but they flatly told me that he died barely three months after I was sent to jail,” she added.
After getting to know from some villagers that her son was alive and well, and living with his paternal grandparents, Munni lodged a complaint before the Gaya district judge on February 17, 2017, against her in-laws, but the matter dragged on. The in-laws were granted anticipatory bail on the basis of their claim that the child had died of diarrhoea.
Singh said that the Bihar police filed a supplementary counter affidavit before the court in August 2017 to the effect that the Gaya police handed over the minor to Munni’s father-in-law, and that the child died due to illness after three months and his last ceremony was done with the help of villagers.
Munni approached the high court on September 27, 2021.
“The case was given a totally different angle in the lower court by confirming the death of the child on the basis of a report. However, the HC was convinced by the documents and photographs supplied to prove that the child was alive and set a deadline for recovery, following which things moved in the right direction,” said Avinash Kumar Singh, counsel for the child’s mother.
On September 12, a two-judge bench of Patna HC adjourned the matter for a month on the request of Gaya SP, but with the condition that the child be located in 48 hours. . “The Court is primarily concerned with the safety of the child whose photograph has been brought on record and who may probably now be a victim due to the circumstances in which the family of the in-laws of the petitioner are placed today,” said the bench of justices Ahsanuddin Amanullah and Purnendu Singh.
It was submitted by the SSP (Patna) Manavjit Singh Dhillon and Municipal Commissioner, Patna that the death certificate, annexed to the counter affidavit filed on behalf of the State, could be forged.
Gaya SSP Harpreet Kaur said that a forged death certificate was submitted prior to her posting in the district, but later when it came to light that the child was alive. “The grandfather of the boy has been arrested, but his uncle—Vijay Yadav alias Binay has fled. We have recovered the child and the mother also identified the boy on the basis of the photograph she had. However, as per the court’s direction, we will do the DNA matching after obtaining permission. The child is safe. The court will decide the custody,” she added
Kaur said that the forged death certificate was procured fraudulently by the uncle.