Lucknow: The Allahabad High Court is likely to decide the issue of granting compensation to ‘living dead’ Lal Behari ‘Mritak’ of Azamgarh on March 13. ‘Living dead’ are the people who have been declared dead in government records but are alive.
Hearing the petition of Lal Behari ‘Mritak’, the court directed the UP government to file an affidavit as to why appropriate compensation should not be paid to the petitioner who was fraudulently declared dead in revenue records by his relatives in alleged collusion with and revenue officials.
The court observed that only the state authorities could declare a person dead and not a private person. However, in this case, owing to corrupt officials, the petitioner was declared dead and entries were accordingly made in revenue records denying him his right to life and property.
As a result, the petitioner was subjected to mental trauma, harassment and humiliation in the family and the society for 18 long years. The court has set March 13, the next date of hearing.
After managing to get himself declared alive in revenue records in 1994, Lal Behari, who remained ‘dead’ in records from 1976 to 1994, had filed a law suit against the UP government in 1994 seeking Rs 25 crore as compensation for the period he remained dead in records.
The chief secretary, principal secretary (revenue) and district magistrate of Azamgarh are respondents in this case.
“I am hopeful of getting justice now,” said Lal Behari.
A bench comprising Justice Ajai Lamba and Justice Anant Kumar of the High Court also directed the Azamgarh DM to file an affidavit regarding involvement of all the public servants and private persons in the process of declaring the petitioner dead.
Apprehending that public servants would try to manipulate and conceal the facts, the court directed that the affidavit be filed along with relevant records. “In case records are not available and have gone ‘missing’, action will be taken against the custodian of records,” observed the court.
The court added that the respondents had already admitted that the petitioner was declared dead wrongly by state agencies. This writ court, as a court of equity, could not ignore the predicament of a person, who for legal purposes, was declared dead. Such infraction on the part of the public servants could not be allowed to go without compensating the petitioner, who lost precious years of his life during which he could have been productive not only to the society but also to his family, said the court.
Meanwhile, Azamgarh administration had lodged an FIR against two persons on February 5 for getting Lal Behari’s land transferred in their names fraudulently. The action came following an earlier direction of the court on January 19.
However, no action was taken against any government official like lekhpal, nayeb tehsildar, kanoongo or village secretary in this regard.