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Ruam Jungle Case





We would like to draw public attention to the plight of 34 Naxalites facing trial in the Ruam Jungle conspiracy case in the court of the Additional Sessions Judge of Jamshedpur, Mr. S. P. Singh. The main charges against these Naxalites are: waging war against the legally constituted government under section 121A and 122 of the Indian Penal Code, attempt to commit dacoity and murder under sections 397 and 149 of the IPC and sundry other charges like recovery of arms, ammunition and objectionable leaflets.


After the bomb-throwing incident in the Inspector’s bungalow at Ghatsila on May 26, 1970, altogether 52 persons were arrested in the Ruam jungle and adjoining areas between May 27 and 31, 1970. Later on, Mary Tyler, a British national arrested in the swoop, was released under international pressure. No commitment could be made against Shaibal Roy, as he was suffering from tuberculosis. From the rest, a batch of 16 prisoners were taken away by the Bengal Police for trial in a bank robbery case. The trial of these sixteen as also of Mr Roy is still pending. The others were committed to sessions in the Jamshedpur court in mid-1974.

During the trial period the Naxalites were kept in the notorious Hazaribagh jail under inhuman conditions. They were prevented from meeting even their dying parents. All this time they were made to live in a condition of constant threat of death and violence which worsened after the killing of 16 undertrial Naxalites in Hazaribagh jail in 1971 allegedly while trying to escape.

Normal legal facilities available to undertrial prisoners were denied to these Naxalites. They were not allowed to meet either their lawyers or their relatives during the trial period. This total disregard for basic human rights of undertrial prisoners is matched by the liberal spending by the government to defend its case. Services of five lawyers were requisitioned to assist the public prosecutor, Mr A. V. Singh. Incidentally, Mr A. V. Singh is the younger brother of the one-time DIG of Ghatsila, Mr Lalit Vijoy Singh who is now the Chief Security Officer of Bokaro Steel Ltd. Altogether about Rs 14 lakhs has been spent from the public exchequer for this case of which Rs 6 lakhs has gone by way of payment to these lawyers. But even then the police took full four months to frame charges. During the trial period they adopted delaying tactics which drew serious strictures from the judge.


The new Janata Government has already set a good precedent by withdrawing the Baroda Dynamite case which was by and large of similar nature. The chief accused is, in fact, holding an important ministerial post in the Central Cabinet. There cannot be any difficulty on the part of the present Government to take similar steps in the case of the Ruam Jungle conspiracy case. We urge the Government to expedite the matter.


HIRANMOY DHAR, P. P. GHOSH, N. SENGUPTA,

T. V. RAO, ARUN SINHA, B. K. BASU.

A. N. Sinha Institute of Social Studies, Patna.

April 30,1977


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JUDGMENT ON RUAM JUNGLE CASE


This article was written by Arun Sinha on June 4, 1977


The Additional District and Sessions Judge of Jamshedpur, Mr S. P. Singh, has exonerated 30 of the accused. Four of them—Bishwanath Ghosh, Bimal Biswas, Tapan Chakravorty and Shankar—have been sentenced to seven years rigorous imprisonment under the Arms Act. But the sentence hardly affects them for they have already spent seven years as undertrials; the period of jail custody, according to the new criminal procedure code, is to be set off against the sentence. That means, all the 34 will be released.

The judge has rejected the very pivot of the conspiracy case, which was related to bomb-throwing at the office-cum- residence of the police inspector of Ghatsila near Jamshedpur. The prosecution turned this bomb-throwing into “dacoity with deadly weapons”. Let us see what the judge has to say on this: “No such occurrence of dacoity or attempt at dacoity took place...For seven to ten minutes 15 bombs were allegedly exploded one after another. There was also gun-firing and an alarm was raised by the sentry on duty as well as by six other constables present there. The dacoits were also crying out. But the police inspector woke up and came out after the alleged dacoits had gone away in a bus...Even though there were so many constables and rifles not a single shot was fired on the alleged dacoits and despite there being so many explosions of bombs not a single individual was injured nor any splinter of the exploded bombs was produced in the court... The prosecution had failed to prove that any of the accused was identified in the alleged occurrence. The accused have been acquitted.”


Dacoity with deadly weapons was only one of the seven charges made against the accused. The case of conspiracy to wage war against the Government of India under Sections 121 and 121A of IPC was also rejected by the court. The judgment said, “...The requirements of Section 195 of Criminal Procedure Code have not been fulfilled by the prosecution. The section requires that complaint in the case should be filed by an officer empowered by the Government to do so. Here in this case the SP of Singhbhum was empowered by the State Government to make the complaint. But no complaint was made by the SP, Singhbhum...Instead the DSP submitted a charge-sheet. Therefore, the cognisance taken by the SDO was illegal and the trial has been without jurisdiction.”


The court refused permission to the prosecution to make a fresh complaint saying that the “prosecution has been unduly slow in bringing the accused to trial and they have already remained in jail for long seven years as undertrial prisoners”. This was a serious stricture on the prosecution. Nothing could be more correct in the court’s observation in so far as the way the trial was conducted by the prosecution. In the -first place, it took full four months to frame the charges against the accused. The trial began in the middle of 1974, more than four years after they were arrested. Even during the trial, the prosecution (in effect, the police) adapted delaying, tactics which drew serious strictures from the court; the strictures are incorporated in the record book of the court.


June 4,1977

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