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The incident took place in Bihar, one of India's poorest states. Image Credit: Gulf News archives

Patna: A judge in Bihar acquitted a boy who was accused of stealing and eating sweets from the house of a neighbour citing the “butter theft” tale of Hindu deity Krishna as mentioned in Hindu scriptures.

The unusual verdict was delivered by Juvenile Justice Board judge Mabvenvendra Mishra when a case pertaining to the theft of sweets by a minor came up for hearing in the Biharsharif court in Nalanda district on Thursday. Police had formally registered a case against the boy based on the complaint filed by a woman.

“When ... Krishna’s ‘butter theft’ could be a naughty act, then how can the theft of sweets by a boy be [considered] a criminal act, especially given that he didn’t have food to eat? There shouldn’t be double standards in the society,” the judge reportedly observed, adding the society must be tolerant towards the children.

He also observed the “naughty acts” (described as ‘Bal Leela’ of Krishna in Hindu scriptures) of Krishna would never have taken place if the society at that time had behaved like the present.

In Hindu scriptures, little Krishna has been fondly described as ‘makhan chor’ (butter thief) for his acts of stealing freshly-churned butter kept in clay pots from the houses of neighbours with the help of friends and even breaking the pot.

The judge also reprimanded the police for registering a case against the boy saying that instead of registering the case, the matter should have been resolved just by entering the complaint in the police diary. He also questioned the act of the woman complainant, asking whether she would have sent her own child to jail if he had stolen money from her purse, and told her to be more tolerant.

Very poor

The sweet theft incident took place at a village under Harnaut police station area of Nalanda district on September 7 when the boy had reached the house of his maternal grandparents. Boy’s maternal grandparents are very poor while his own parents are incapable of arranging food for the family. His father is severely sick after fracturing his backbone in a road accident while his mother is mentally ill.

The boy admitted that he had eaten sweets from the house of a neighbour since he was very hungry at that time. Taking into account his family’s economic condition, the judge also ordered the local child welfare officials to take care of the boy’s education and other needs.

The judge asked the official concerned to prepare a proper plan for this child so that he is not compelled to commit theft in the future.

Last year, the same judge had acquitted another boy accused of snatching the purse of a women shopper after being told by the accused that his mother and younger brother had not eaten for some days and he snatched the purse to arrange food for them. The incident had also taken place in Nalanda district during the COVID-19 lockdown enforced last year by the Indian government.