BOKA Thakur was arrested in 1945 on a murder charge. And was forgotten till 1982, as he kept shuttling between the Ranchi mental asylum, and the Madhubani and Darbhanga jails. For Thakur, deaf and dumb from birth, justice came in the form of Kamlesh Jain.
Jain shot into the limelight in the early '80s. The young lawyer took up cases of undertrials who had spent years in jails—in the course of the trial and sometimes even after acquittal. She was a counsel on behalf of her brother, who had moved a habeas corpus for Thakur's release and compensation from the state.
A year later, she received Rudal Saha's case. Arrested in 1951 on a murder charge, he was acquitted in 1968. But Saha's ordeal was far from over. He continued to rot in prison till 1983. Jain once again came to his rescue. In both cases, the Supreme Court asked the state to pay compensation.
Jain's latest crusade came by chance. During a visit to her home town, Kishan-ganj, she got to hear about Tahir's death because of official apathy and negligence.
That apart, what pricked Jain's conscience most was the transfer of some destitutes to jails in the absence of remand homes in their areas. In order to justify their presence, cases would be framed accordingly. "I found five women sleeping without blankets in the month of December," says Jain.
Clubbing all these cases with Tahir's death in the PIL, Jain hopes the ongoing judicial activism will at least bring a faint smile on the lips of the rightless.