The 14-year-old son of an RTI activist spent nearly six months in jail in Bihar because the police claimed he was an ‘adult’. The teenager walked to freedom on Monday after the Buxar district court granted him bail, while the police department scrambled to fix responsibility over the alleged frame-up.
When they took the boy into custody, the police had claimed that he was an adult. Apart from being a Right to Information (RTI) activist fighting corruption, his father Anil Chaubey is a farmer in Rampur Dihri village under Rajpur police station, about 125 km west of Patna.
Buxar SP Upendra Nath Verma confirmed the boy’s release. He told FPJ over phone that the department has ordered an inquiry into the matter.
The boy was picked on February 29 when he was returning home from a school examination centre at Dildarnagar (UP) on a motorcycle with two friends. The police said he was carrying a pistol and his pals had six live cartridges. He was put behind bars for violation of the Arms Act. His friends were released on bail.
According to his school register, the boy was born in April 2006, which makes him a minor. Asked whether any action would be taken against the guilty policemen, SP Verma said “An investigation has been ordered. No action proposed.”
Shashank Shekhar, a member of the Juvenile Justice Board, told FPJ: “The boy has been released following orders of the JJ Board. He came to the Board today to meet us. He is free now." He said it was beyond the Board’s jurisdiction to recommend any action against the guilty cops. “He was ordered to be released as the Board found him to be a minor.”
Chaubey had been fighting against corruption and irregularities in the implementation of the various government schemes, particularly the rural employment guarantee programme and procurement of paddy by primary agriculture co-operative societies. He said some panchayat leaders were unhappy with him and had got him implicated in a case under the SC/ST (prevention of atrocities) Act too. But, he said, he was given justice by the court.
Chaubey said these leaders who were aggrieved with his RTI applications were responsible for sending his minor son to jail. He thanked the members of the JJ Board for ordering his release.
The case was taken up by the Director General of Police Gupteshwar Pandey after Chaubey approached him in March. Pandey had ordered an inquiry into the arrest of the boy.
According to an official study, 16,000 cases are pending before the JJ Boards in Bihar, with Nalanda, home district of Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, accounting for 42.6%. It is 0.8% in Aurangabad and nil in Arwal district.