Shillong jail break case: Money down the drain
By Our Reporter
SHILLONG: Normally the Meghalaya Government does not employ top notch lawyers to defend its numerous cases. But the government did not want to take a chance with the high profile Shillong jailbreak case which was ostensibly masterminded by jail personnel themselves and following which hardened criminal Full Moon Dhar was eliminated in an alleged fake encounter.
An RTI filed by CSWO president Agnes Kharshiing who has been following the jailbreak case meticulously, found that senior Supreme Court lawyer KTS Tulsi defending the Government on the jail break case charged a whopping Rs 73 lakh as fees so far. Tulsi had been appearing on behalf of the Police Department at the Judicial Inquiry by the Commission which is probing the jailbreak imbroglio.
Agnes Kharshiing, who is also the Convenor of the Steering Committee Against Murder of Democracy (SCAMoD), informed media persons that the government paid a total of Rs 73,64,500. The RTI reply received by Kharshiing states that Tulsi charges Rs 3.5 lakh for every appearance at the hearing. Over and above, Tulsi also charges Rs 50,000 an hour for tele-conferencing/ discussions with the Government on the case.
Further, the ace Supreme Court lawyer charges Rs 1.10 lakh for every draft prepared for filing affidavits of witnesses/individuals who depose on behalf of the Government before the Commission.
Earlier, Tulsi had also taken a fee of Rs 3.5 lakh per sitting during the judicial probe into the Tura firing incident which claimed four lives in September 2005.
The jailbreak which reeked of a politician-criminal-police nexus resulting in an alleged fake encounter where Full Moon Dhar was eliminated is yet to be solved, despite several sittings of the Judicial Enquiry Commission which first had Justice (Retd) D Biswas at the helm and was later taken over by Justice (Retd) SP Rajkhowa. .
The infamous jailbreak that occurred on May 31, 2009 saw seven under trial prisoners led by Dhar escaping from the Shillong jail. Dhar was killed in an encounter the next day while and others were re-arrested.
What distinguishes the Shillong jail break case from other enquiries is the persistence of SCAMOD to follow the case through and piece together evidence which the police were hard put to deny. In addition to the Judicial Enquiry the government has also set up a series of enquiries which SCAMOD feels are aimed at obfuscating matters. It was at SCAMOD’s insistence that the Lapang Government was forced to institute the Judicial Enquiry. The jail break probe took its twists and turns after the re-arrested under-trial prisoners testified before the Commission alleging that Dhar was killed in a fake encounter after he was caught alive.
Full Moon Dhar’s girl friend Dhar, Evatiplang Kharkongor had also alleged that some politicians and businessmen had facilitated the jail break.
Meanwhile Agnes Kharshiing on Monday lambasted the Government for wasting public money to pay the lawyer’s fees for a cover up job of a fake encounter badly executed and a jail break that has all the makings of an inside job. According to Kharshiing, the state government should have spent the same amount of money to provide better civic amenities to various police stations and outposts in the state.