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A 62-year-old woman has filed a habeas corpus petition in the Madurai bench of the Madras high court seeking to produce her husband who went missing 40 years ago.  In her habeas corpus petition, Pushpavalli Stephenson (62), hailing from Alancholai in Kanykumari said that her husband Samuel Stephenson, was serving in the fifth battalion of CRPF when he was sent on an assignment to London in the year 1971.

 "He served there for two years. But after that, there was no communication from him and his whereabouts are unknown. All my efforts to trace him proved futile,'' Pushpavalli said.  She stated that although petitions were sent to the President of India, Prime minister, chief justice of the Supreme Court, British embassy, external affairs secretary, director general of CRPF and the inspector general, there was no positive response. Pushpavalli said she suspected that her husband might have been illegally detained somewhere.

"It is the duty of the CRPF officials to find my husband,'' she said and pleaded the court to issue an order in this regard.  However, K S Senthil Kumar, representing the CRPF, told the court that in 1973, Stephenson was transferred to the CRPF battalion in Hyderabad. He was relieved from duty in London on April 24, 1973 and was given flight tickets to leave for Hyderabad. However, he did not report for duty in Hyderabad. He was subsequently declared as a deserter by the CRPF.

He argued that if a person is missing for seven consecutive years, he is considered to be dead as per Indian law. England too had a similar rule. Since Stephenson was missing for the past 40 years, he should be considered dead as per law, the advocate argued.  Judges Vijayaraghavan and Rajeswaran have ordered the Centre to submit information on whether Stephenson had travelled to Hyderabad using the flight tickets given to him in 1973.


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