Singer Daler Mehndi's appeal against a two-year prison term in a 2003 case of human trafficking — for taking people abroad by showing them as troupe members — was dismissed by a district court in Patiala today, and he was sent to jail. Originally sentenced in 2018, he was on bail so far.
In the complaints almost two decades ago, Daler Mehndi and his brother Shamsher Singh were accused of collecting "passage money" to take people abroad, mainly to the US and Canada, via the "troupe" route. While they did take some people, there were others who said they took money but did not keep their promise.
The case in September 2003 at Patiala was filed by one such man, named Bakshish Singh. He said the brothers took two troupes to the US in 1998 and 1999, including 10 people for illegal migration. "They took Rs 13 lakh from me. Neither did they send me abroad, nor did they return my money."
The brothers were arrested a month after the FIR, and got bail within days. Both were charged under Indian Penal Code's sections for human trafficking and conspiracy, and under the Indian Passport Act. After that FIR, 35 other complaints came up too, as per reports.
Shamsher Mehndi died in 2017, when the trial was still on.
In 2018, Daler Mehndi got a two-year jail term from a judicial magistrate's court, but was released on bail again. He later filed an appeal.
Patiala, Punjab | Daler Mehndi and his brother Shamsher Mehndi took Rs 13 lakh from me to send me to Canada. Neither did they send me abroad, nor did they return my money. At that time they used to do this work of sending people abroad: Bakshish Singh, Complainant pic.twitter.com/dVdlBn3imA— ANI (@ANI) July 14, 2022
Today, the court of Additional District and Sessions Judge HS Grewal dismissed that appeal. His petition for bail was rejected, too, and so was a request to be released on probation — that is, a commitment of good behaviour instead of jailtime.
He has the option to approach the Punjab and Haryana High Court now.
In 2006, three years after the FIR, the local police had filed petitions claiming that they found nothing on Daler Mehndi. But the court refused to discharge him, saying there was “sufficient evidence" for further investigation. It took another 12 years for the sentencing at first, and now four more years to uphold it.