The Lal Bihari "Mritak" (Dead) case is an extraordinary story in Indian legal and bureaucratic history, highlighting the complexities and absurdities of bureaucratic processes. This case is not a judicial decision from a higher court like the Supreme Court or High Court, but rather an unusual real-life saga of a man's struggle against the Indian bureaucratic system.
- Lal Bihari's Predicament: Lal Bihari, a farmer from Uttar Pradesh, found out in 1975 that he had been officially declared dead in the government's records. His uncle had allegedly bribed a government official to declare Lal Bihari dead in order to illegally acquire his land.
- Struggle for Identity: Lal Bihari spent nearly two decades trying to prove he was alive. He faced an absurd situation where, despite being alive and present in person, he was officially 'dead' according to government records.
Actions Taken by Lal Bihari:
1. Administrative and Legal Efforts: Lal Bihari made numerous attempts to get his death annulled in the official records, including applying for loans, contesting elections, and even seeking compensation for his 'widow'.
2. Formation of Mritak Sangh: He formed an association named "Uttar Pradesh Mritak Sangh" (Association of the Dead of Uttar Pradesh) to raise awareness and help others who were in similar situations.
3. Awarding Himself the Title 'Mritak': Lal Bihari added "Mritak" (meaning 'dead') to his name as part of his campaign to prove that he was alive.
Implications and Significance:
- Exposing Flaws in Bureaucracy: The case exposed the loopholes and inefficiencies in the Indian bureaucratic system, particularly in rural areas where corruption and manipulation of records are more prevalent.
- Raising Awareness: Lal Bihari's struggle brought national and international attention to the issue of bureaucratic negligence and corruption.
- Helping Others: Through his efforts and the platform of the Mritak Sangh, Lal Bihari helped many others who were victims of similar bureaucratic errors to regain their legal status as living persons.
The Lal Bihari case, while not a legal case in the traditional sense, is a remarkable example of an individual's fight against bureaucratic apathy and corruption. It underscores the need for systemic reforms in government record-keeping and highlights the plight of those who suffer due to administrative errors. Lal Bihari's perseverance and unconventional methods in fighting for his rights have made this case a unique and important chapter in discussions about bureaucratic reform in India.