Compensate for overstay in prison: HC


lekhaka-Deepak Tiwari


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One of the two convicts, who were sentenced to life imprisonment for murder, was acquitted on appeal while another was held back. HC asks govt to compensate the victim for the lapse.

New Delhi, Jan 14: In a remarkable judgment, the Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court has held that the petitioner is entitled for compensation for illegal imprisonment. Illegal detention is quite a norm in India, similarly, there are cases of illegal imprisonment where the victims are kept in prison even when their ‘term’ is over. However, there is a law that protects such victims from the excesses and offers them justice.

In a case heard by the High Court, convicts Chokkar and Mayilraj were sentenced to life imprisonment for a murder in 2012. However, Mayilraj was acquitted in 2017 after he filed an appeal while Chokkar stayed in the jail as he had not appealed for acquittal. When Chokkar too filed an acquittal plea later, the Bench realised that though both were convicted in the same case, Chokkar had to stay behind the bars only because he had not appealed.

Compensate for overstay in prison: HC

The Bench, therefore, held that Chokkar was entitled to the same relief as his co-accused in the case. Hence, it not only ordered immediate acquittal of Chokkar but at the same time directed the Tamil Nadu government to pay Rs 3.5 lakh as compensation for keeping him in jail ‘illegally’.

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TN govt to comply

On its part, the State government has accepted the lapse and decided to pay the amount awarded to Chokkar. At the same time, the government has ordered an inquiry and disciplinary action against those who are responsible behind it, including the Superintendent of Madurai Central Jail. Now, Chokkar will be paid Rs 3.5 lakh as compensation for his illegal detention from October 2019 to July 2020.

Law on illegal detention & compensation

The law is quite clear on the illegal detention and imprisonment. As per the provisions, any individual, who has suffered false imprisonment, can seek monetary compensation. He or she just needs to file a civil or criminal suit, depending on the situation. This could be done under Section 19 of the Code of Civil Procedure (CrPC) for compensation of damages.

Similarly, under Section 35A of the CrPC, victims could ask for compensatory costs. Nonetheless, there is also a provision under Section 357 of the Code where the court can award compensation to victims of illegal detention by the government.

Story first published: Saturday, January 14, 2023, 14:11 [IST]

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