Man who came back from ‘dead’ to sue wifeBy Alkesh Sharma, IANS
Monday, February 28, 2011
CHANDIGARH - A septuagenarian former Indian Air Force (IAF) official declared dead by a local Punjab court in 1996 on the basis of evidence submitted by his family members, has now decided to file a case against his wife and sons.
Sital Singh Bagi, who retired as warrant officer from the IAF in September 1986, was declared dead in 1996 by a local court in Rajpura town in Patiala district of Punjab, around 45 km from here.
Bagi had to fight a 12-year-long legal battle to prove that he was not dead.
He challenged the court verdict in 1999 and the court ruled in his favour mid-February 2011 and asked the IAF authorities to pay his pension. The copy of the verdict was made public Feb 25.
Ranjan Lakhanpal, a human rights activist and a lawyer at the Punjab and Haryana High Court, expressed shock over Bagi’s predicament.
“I was shocked when Bagi came to me around five years back and narrated his miserable story before me. A man who had spent 26 years of his life serving the nation is not recognised by his wife and children. They got him declared dead from the court; it was very disappointing,” Lakhanpal told IANS.
He said: “I was so moved by his story that I decided to fight his case free of cost. We have decided to file a case against Bagi’s wife and children for causing so much of harassment and mental trauma to my client. They cannot escape like this.”
Bagi, now in his early 70s, had moved a local court in August 1999 against the 1996 decision in which he was declared dead, based on a petition filed by Bagi’s wife Naseeb Kaur.
For all these years, Naseeb has been getting family pension and allowances after she submitted to the IAF authorities a court certificate stating that her husband was dead.
After retiring from the IAF, Bagi went into hiding in 1987 as he had received threats from various terrorist outfits.
Between 1987 and 1998, he kept moving from one place to another and did not contact his family members, who were residing at their ancestral house in Patiala town.
Bagi stayed at various places in Orissa, Kolkata and also in Dhaka.
When he returned home in 1998, his wife and children refused to recognise him, the ex-air force officer claimed. It was when he approached the IAF authorities that Bagi found his wife had submitted his death certificate there.
The latest court verdict has entitled Bagi to avail himself of all the benefits meant for retired defence officials and restored his ownership rights over 71 kanals of land, which is worth millions of rupees.
“My family deserted me and I did not have any money or a home to live. They straightaway refused to recognise me. Now I am happy that truth has come out before everyone,” said Bagi.
He added: “I am discussing the further course of action with my lawyer and very soon we will file a case against my wife and children.”
(Alkesh Sharma can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)