Govind Roy: As the saying goes, a small sin is punishable. Also signed. But what if it is without fault… that is, punishment without any fault? Who should not spend a single day in jail, did he not spend more than 19 years in the darkness of Gard without guilt! The Calcutta High Court intervened to free that man from imprisonment. He is Chitta Burman of Sundarban. This fisherman from South 24 Parganas was accused of multiple charges including illegal entry, weapons case.
First Bangladesh lower court sentenced 30 years but later 16 years long legal battle over Padma. Finally, the Supreme Court of Bangladesh announced the acquittal and released him. Although released by the court of the country, Chitta is currently incarcerated in Baruipur Correctional Facility No. 111 due to legal complications. Court-friendly Tapaskumar Bhanj recently drew the attention of the Division Bench of the Chief Justice of the High Court to release him from imprisonment.
[আরও পড়ুন: অর্থের বিনিময়ে রাহুলের ভারত জোড়ো যাত্রায় অভিনেতারা, দাবি বিজেপির, পালটা দিল কংগ্রেসও]
Is the mind really innocent? The division bench of High Court Chief Justice Prakash Srivastava and Justice Rajarshi Bharadwaj asked the Registrar General of Kolkata to approach the Supreme Court of Bangladesh, Registrar General and Deputy High Commission to get information and documents about it. According to the court’s order, the Registrar General of the Calcutta High Court should report to the Registrar General of Calcutta High Court whether the Bangladesh Supreme Court has released the prisoner as per the demand for release by contacting the office of Bangladesh. Tapasbabu said, “After receiving the order of the Supreme Court of Bangladesh, we will apply for compensation to the court for Chitta Burman’s imprisonment for almost twenty years without any fault. He must be compensated for every day he spends in jail without committing a crime.”
According to court sources, in 2003, Chitta went fishing in the Sundarbans with a group of fishermen. One night when the leopards were pulling nets in the middle of the river, they fell into the hands of pirates. The pirates kidnapped them. That’s all Chitta Burman can remember. When he regained consciousness the next day, he was in the custody of the Bangladesh Coast Guard. No companions found. In the face of questioning, the Coast Guard officials disclosed the entire story, but later they handed over the heart to the Bangladesh Police. A case was filed against him for multiple offenses including illegal trespass, arms case.
[আরও পড়ুন:কেটে টুকরো টুকরো করবে আফতাব! দু’বছর আগেই পুলিশকে জানান শ্রদ্ধা, প্রকাশ্যে বিস্ফোরক চিঠি]
Meanwhile, the dead bodies of several fishermen of that group were recovered. After several months of waiting, when Chitta was not found, wife Shivani assumed that her husband had died. Shivani Devi suddenly found her husband after about 13 years. In the prisoner extradition with Bangladesh in 2016, several convicted and under-trial prisoners were sent back to the other side. Among which was Chitta Burman. After coming to the state, his address was Alipore Central Jail. The inmates of Alipore Central Jail were later shifted to Baruipur Correctional Facility. Chitta Burman is spending his days there now. But this time, Chitta Burman and his family are counting the days in the hope of his release.
As the number of inmates in state correctional facilities is higher than prisons, inmates have to be overcrowded. There are also structural flaws. On the eve of the Corona situation, the Supreme Court had already taken initiatives to reduce the pressure of prisoners from the correctional facilities of every state due to receiving such a report. The High Courts of each state were directed by the Supreme Court to implement the same. Calcutta High Court also took initiative. A committee of the High Court consists of the Home Secretary or Chief Secretary of the State, the Chairman of the State Legal Aid Service Authority or Legal Service Authority and the Chief Secretary of the Prisons Department. In addition, the division bench of the Chief Justice of the High Court appointed lawyer Tapas Bhanj as a court friend in the self-initiated case.
Tapasbabu visited all correctional institutions in the state. He came to the attention of Chitta Burman when he went to Baruipur correctional facility. You can find out that Chitta Burman has been in jail for almost 20 years, but on June 18, 2019, the Supreme Court of Bangladesh has ordered his acquittal.
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