The esteemed Panjab University has given birth to many distinguished alumni who have contributed immensely to the cause of nation building. Dr. Hargobind Khorana, Nobel Laureate Biotechnologist, Kalpana Chawla, NASA Astronaut, Justice Swatanter Kumar, Former Chief Justice, Mumbai, High Court and many more distinguished personalities have made it in the list, which also includes Jagdeep Singh, the revered judge who pronounced the historic verdict in Baba Ram Rahim rape case.
Hailing from Haryana, Jagdeep Singh completed his law degree from the three-year Law department, Panjab University in 2000. “He was a bright student“, recalled a Haryana judicial officer, who has known him since his Panjab University days. “He is considered a very hardworking and upright officer”, he added. After this, he started practicing as a lawyer in Punjab and Haryana High Court. He fought both criminal and civil cases from 2000 to 2012. While having a word with Hindustan Times, his colleagues in the legal fraternity describe Jagdeep Singh as a “very competent, tough and upright judge with a no-nonsense attitude“. “Singh likes keeping a low profile and is a man of few words. But all those who know him vouch for his competence and integrity,” said a lawyer who has worked with him.
He entered Haryana’s judicial service in 2012 and was posted in Sonipat as Additional District and Sessions Judge. After a thorough consultation and inspection by the High Court Administration, he was designated as the CBI Special Judge in 2016. Generally, the process of appointment of CBI Court Judge is not easy, but due to his extraordinary capability, the High Court administration handed him the responsibility of the CBI court just after a single posting.
He first caught the public eye in September 2016 when he was on a visit to his native village in Jind, Haryana. While leaving for Panchkula, he saw four people injured in a collision between a motorcycle and a car at Ikkas village. He called up the 102 service a couple of times for an ambulance. When the operator told him, “Ambulance kya udd ke aaegi?”, he stopped a private vehicle and took the injured to the hospital.
Recently Jagdeep Singh once again came into the limelight as he was the judge who pronounced the verdict in Baba Ram Rahim rape case. This case started in the year 2002 when an anonymous letter was sent to the then Prime Minister of India Atal Bihari Vajpayee, in which allegations of raping the sadhvis were made against the chief of Dera Sacha Sauda, Gurmeet Singh Ram Rahim. The Punjab and Haryana High Court took suo moto cognizance of this case and referred it to CBI for an inquiry on September 24, 2002. CBI during the inquiry came to know that on the pretext of purifying sadhvis, they had been raped. As a result, a charge sheet was filed on July 30, 2007. On August 25, 2017, Jagdeep Singh convicted Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh in a rape case after which widespread violence erupted in several parts of Punjab and Haryana in which 38 people were killed. After this, he was shifted to Suraina District Jail in Rohtak.
On August 28, 2017, Jagdeep Singh was flown in a helicopter to Sunaria Jail, where a special court room was set up for pronouncing the quantum of sentence in the case. The counsel for Baba Ram Rahim appealed for mercy before the court by citing that the convict is engaged in social work of varied nature and many commendation certificates received by him were produced before the court. The counsel further submitted that convict is suffering from 3 diseases i.e. disc problem, blood pressure and high sugar and his long incarceration would affect his health adversely. After considering the facts and circumstances of the case, Jagdeep Singh was of the view that such person who has sexually exploited his own female disciples and then threatened them with dire consequences does not deserve any sympathy.
In the order of quantum of sentence he quoted the lines of Mahatma Gandhi,
“To call a woman the weaker sex is a libel; it is man’s injustice to woman. If by strength is meant brute strength, then, indeed, is woman less brute than man. If by strength is meant moral power, then a woman is immeasurably man’s superior. Has she not greater intuition, is she not more self-sacrificing, has she not greater powers of endurance, has she not greater courage? Without her, a man could not be. If nonviolence is the law of our being, the future is with the woman. Who can make a more effective appeal to the heart than woman?”
The CBI Court sentenced him to 10 years of rigorous imprisonment in each case i.e. 20 years of punishment in total and after taking into consideration the financial capacity of the accused, the court directed him to pay the compensation of Rs. 15,00,000 in each case. The public rejoiced at this decision.
“Justice has always evoked ideas of equality, of the proportion of compensation. In short, justice is another name of liberty, equality, and fraternity.”
This quote by BR Ambedkar was proved correct by the admirable judge. Justice can be delayed, but it cannot be denied is something which was demonstrated by Jagdeep Singh in this case. Singh, who decided this case impartially and without getting affected by any extraneous factors, has once again proved that no one is above the law and that people can place their reliance on the Judiciary who acts as a protector of rights of the citizens guaranteed by the law of the land.
About the Author:
I am pursuing B.Com LLB (Hons) from University Institute of Legal Studies, Panjab University. I might be afraid of failing and falling, but I am not afraid of trying and this is something like an antidote for both the FAIL and the FALL.
Before I die, I just want to make my parents happy and proud of me.