CUTTACK/BALANGIR: Justice was delayed for 76-year-old Hareram Satpathy but it has finally been delivered, after 41 years. His younger brother Parsuram Satpathy, a student leader who had been brutally murdered by a former MLA at Balangir and his associates in 1974, will finally rest in peace, he says.
The Orissa High Court which convicted former Kantabanji legislator Prasanna Kumar Pal and eight others for murdering Parsuram, sentenced them to imprisonment for life on Monday. Of the nine, only Pal, Artatrana Singhdeo and Tikaram Agarwal are alive. And justice finally caught up with them. In 1974, Parsuram, who also was a journalist and leader of ABVP, was crushed under a jeep in what was the first political murder of Balangir. A case was registered against the nine but a local
court and later the High Court acquitted all of them. But Hareram vowed to fight for justice for his younger brother and challenged the verdict in the Supreme Court. The Apex court had directed the HC to hear the case again. It's during the re-hearing that all the nine accused were found guilty and awarded lifers.
A division bench of the Orissa High Court, comprising Justice Vinod Prasad and Justice S K Sahoo, convicted Pal, Singhdeo and Agrawal. When Parsuram was killed in November 1974, it was dubbed as an accident. Hareram filed an FIR following which the police investigated into the case and filed chargesheet against the six who are by now dead.
The elder brother filed a protest petition before the SDJM, Balangir, stating that the police had left out Pal, Singhdeo and Agrawal and appealed to the court to include their names. The SDJM allowed the petition and the three were also charged as accused. The accused, however, filed a revision petition in the HC which quashed the order of Balangir SDJM. Challenging the HC order, Hareram moved the Supreme Court. In 1978, the SC set aside the order of HC and upheld the order of the lower court.
Subsequently, the trial concluded in 1980 and all the accused were acquitted by the then Balangir Sessions Judge. The order of acquittal was also confirmed by the High Court in 1982. Hareram did not give up. In 1983, he again moved the apex court again and the SC, in 1984, ordered for fresh hearing by the HC which delivered its judgement on Monday convicting the three, all aged above 65 years. “It may have taken long but it is victory for Parsuram as the HC has restored justice. My brother’s soul will rest in eternal peace now,” said the elder brother.