Is root's shell /bin/sh? If not, then something is wrong with /bin/sh.
You should have another shell available to do some comparison testing (eg. /bin/csh). Use vipw to change the abc user's shell to say /bin/csh.
Can you now login as abc? If so, then something is wrong with /bin/sh. If not, then it implies that the problem is not specifically with /bin/sh.
Assume you can login as abc using /bin/csh. Try simply running /bin/sh. Does it work? If not, then again /bin/sh is broke somehow, replace it with /bin/sh from another identical system (I run 4.10, sorry...)
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