Plea in SC seeking guidelines for compensation to victims of wrongful prosecutions

The Delhi High Court, on November 30, 2017, directed the Law Commission of India to undertake a comprehensive examination of issue of relief and rehabilitation to victims of wrongful prosecution and incarceration

NEW DELHI – A plea has been filed in the Supreme Court seeking direction to the Centre to frame guidelines to compensate victims, subjected to wrongful prosecutions, and implement the recommendations of the Law Commission’s report number 277, dealing with the issue.

The plea, filed by advocate Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay, contended that there are many startling cases which show the gross abuse of power and authority by the state and vexatious complainants, which caused absolute “miscarriage of justice”.

Arguing that failure of justice causes irreparable damage to right to life, liberty and dignity of innocent citizens and no relief is given by the courts, the petitioner said being the custodian of the Constitution, the Supreme Court may use its plenary constitutional power, as an alternative, to frame guidelines for compensation to victims of wrongful prosecution.

Citing the cause of action for the PIL, the plea said: “The Allahabad High Court acquitted Vishnu Tiwari, who spent 20 years in jail on rape charges with no compensation awarded, ignoring even the public law remedy which shows the necessity of effective compensation and legal mechanism for malicious prosecutions and wrongful incarceration of innocents.”

Citing the National Crime Records Bureau’s annual statistical report titled Prison Statistics India (PSI), the plea said according to PSI 2015, there were 4,19,623 prisoners across the country out of which 67.2 per cent were under trial — substantially higher than the convict population 1,34,168 (32 per cent).

“A review of the data in PSI shows that across the country as well as in states, under trial prisoners continue to be higher in numbers than the convict population. The states with the highest percentage of under trials were Meghalaya – 91.4 per cent, Bihar – 82.4 per cent, Manipur – 81.9 per cent, Jammu & Kashmir – 81.5 per cent, Nagaland – 79.6 per cent, Odisha – 78.8 per cent, Jharkhand 77.1 per cent, and Delhi – 76.7 per cent,” it said.

The plea contended that malicious prosecutions and incarceration infringes fundamental rights guaranteed under Article 14 and 21 of the Constitution.

The Delhi High Court, on November 30, 2017, directed the Law Commission of India to undertake a comprehensive examination of issue of relief and rehabilitation to victims of wrongful prosecution and incarceration. “The Law Commission submitted its Report No 277 on August 30, 2018 but the Centre has not taken appropriate steps to implement the recommendations,” the plea said.

–IANS

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