BHOPAL: What's in a name, wrote one of history's greatest playwrights William Shakespeare.
Turns out everything. Thanks to a gaffe by the police in Madhya Pradesh's Dhar district, a 68-year-old man was left to languish in jail for no fault of his.
The shocking case of mistaken identity took place when Husan was jailed for four months instead of his deceased stepbrother, Husna, who was convicted for life.
Husan's illegal detention ended earlier this week, hours after the Madhya Pradesh HC's divisional bench in Indore ordered his release after an inquiry at the level of state's Principal Secretary (Home) established that the elderly tribal was wrongly put behind bars instead of his convicted lifer brother.
Passing the order on the habeas corpus petition filed by Husan's son Kamlesh against father's October 2019 illegal arrest in the 1976 murder case, the division bench comprising SC Sharma and Shailendra Shukla also directed the state government to pay Rs 5 lakh compensation to Husan in 30 days.
The court further directed that in all such cases hereafter where an arrest is made, the authorities shall use the biometric system as well as other documents to ascertain the identity of the accused to ensure that innocent people like Husan don't land in jail again.
The HC also ordered that a case of contempt be registered separately against the Sub Divisional Officer of Police (SDOP) and other police personnel for making a false statement before the court.
In October 2019, 68-year-old Husan was arrested in connection with a 1976 murder case.
In the affidavit submitted before the HC, SDOP Manoharsingh Baria stated that Husna was convicted in the 1976 murder case and awarded life imprisonment.
He was released on bail but didn’t report back, owing to which an arrest warrant was issued. Husan was subsequently arrested and produced before the Chief Judicial Magistrate (CJM) court in Dhar, which sent him to Indore Central Jail to serve the remaining life sentence.
In the report submitted before the court, the SDOP categorically stated that the person who was arrested in October 2019 and sent to jail was actually Husna, who was convicted in the murder case.
But the petitioner stated categorically before the court that his father Husan and Husna (father’s stepbrother) were two different persons. The petitioner’s counsel submitted before HC that the actual convict Husna alias Bada Husna was released on parole and had died in September 2016.
On January 30, 2019, the HC directed the Principal Secretary (Home) to conduct an enquiry based on the fingerprints and other materials to ascertain whether an innocent person has been sent to jail or not. The PS (Home) got the enquiry conducted and submitted the duly signed report within stipulated ten days, stating that it wasn’t the actual convict Husna, meaning that the innocent Husan was wrongly arrested in October 2019 and was languishing in jail for four months.
According to informed sources, the enquiry that established it was a case of mistaken identity arrived at the findings with the help of the fingerprints of Husna in the jail records as well as the cut mark near the eye of the actual convict, who as per the petitioner’s counsel had already died in 2016.
In Monday’s order, the bench also observed, “This court hopes and trusts that on the basis of mistaken identity of an individual, classic comedy of error shall not be repeated as written by a great author, William Shakespeare.”