| Jagjivan Ram in Faizabad. Telegraph picture
Faizabad, Feb. 6: A flicker of a smile lit up the wrinkled face of Patto Devi when reporters broke the news today that the Supreme Court has taken cognisance of the detention of her husband, languishing in jail for 38 years without trial.
Responding to a report published by The Telegraph last month, the apex court today issued notices to the Uttar Pradesh government and the registrar-general of Allahabad High Court, demanding an explanation why Jagjivan Ram Yadav was detained for so long and why the case was not taken up for trial. They have been asked to submit replies by next Monday.
Sitting huddled in a corner of her mud hut in Khandaga, a farmers’ village about 18 km from Faizabad, with her son and his family, 65-year-old Patto Devi recounted how her life has taken a miraculous turn.
Jagjivan, 70, was given up for dead in 1968 and Patto Devi had clad herself in widow’s white till she came to know in July last year that he was alive but behind bars.
“It was hell for the last three decades for me. God only knows how I brought up my children without him. I am so happy that he will come back now. Now I hope to spend the remaining years of our life together,” Patto Devi said.
On January 23, The Telegraph reported that Jagjivan ' arrested for murder ' was last produced for trial in a Faizabad sessions court on December 7, 1968.
Jail authorities brought this to the notice of the fifth additional sessions judge, Faizabad, Lal Chandra Tripathi, on July 5 last year.
Tripathi then sought a report from Khandaga police station, where the case against Jagjivan was registered. In his reply, inspector Dhruv Chandra said not much information could be provided as the records were missing.
On January 18, the judge rejected Jagjivan’s bail plea on the ground that the court had no way of knowing how grave the charges against him were. Tripathi, however, observed: “It is unfortunate that this old man is waiting for 38 years in jail for justice while so many hardened criminals are roaming free.”
The Faizabad jail authorities had informed the court that following an administrative order dated December 7, 1968, Jagjivan was sent to Varanasi for treatment as he was mentally ill.
In a fit of rage, Jagjivan had bludgeoned a neighbour’s wife and then surrendered before the police in 1968.