'Nobody bothered to tell me I was free!'

Published Feb 11, 2003


New Delhi - A 28-year-old Indian man spent more than eight years in prison after being declared innocent because no one bothered to tell him he was free to go, according to a news report on Tuesday.

In 1994, the High Court of the eastern Indian state of Orissa declared Pratap Nayak innocent, but he was never informed of the ruling by officials or family, the Star News channel reported.

Add to this the time spent in jail during the trial, and Nayak spent 14 years in prison for a crime he never committed.

Apart from the judicial system, Nayak blames his family: "No one bothered about me. Not even my own family. They did not have the money or the interest. Naturally, I languished in jail," he told Star News.

When still in school, he got caught in a violent clash between two families in his village, and along with five others, was sentenced to life imprisonment.

In 1994 the court declared all six not guilty. At this time the other five had been released on bail.

By the time this judgement was announced, Nayak's lawyer had died and no one bothered to inform either the jail authorities or Nayak.

Nayak has not been welcomed with open arms by his family either.

"How do I take care of him? We don't get enough to eat ourselves," said his father Rahas Nayak, a poor bamboo craftsman. "Had he completed his education, he would have got a good job by now. They spoiled his life." - Sapa-DPA

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