A petition has been filed in the Supreme Court seeking direction to the Central government to frame guidelines for compensation to victims of wrongful prosecutions.
The petition filed by advocate Ashwini Upadhyay said alternatively, being a custodian of the Constitution and protector of the right to life, liberty and dignity, the Court may use its plenary constitutional power to frame the guidelines for compensation to victims of wrongful prosecutions.
“There has been a spurt in false cases. Wrongful prosecution and incarceration of innocent persons with no effective statutory and legal mechanism available to the innocent persons to address the same, is causing ‘miscarriage of justice’ and has created a black-hole in the criminal jurisprudence of our Country,” the petition added.
The petitioner said the facts constituting a cause of action accrued on January 28 this year when the Allahabad High Court declared one, Vishnu Tiwari, innocent and observed that the motive of the FIR was a land dispute. Vishnu was arrested on September 16, 2000, after being booked for rape and atrocities under the SC/ST Act and was in jail for 20 years.
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 the wrongful incarceration of innocents, the PIL said.
The injury caused to the citizens is extremely large because due to the Centre’s inaction, citizens’ right to life, liberty and dignity, guaranteed under Article 21, is being brazenly offended, it added.
The petition further said that it is necessary to state that the High Court of Delhi, while dealing with an appeal on the issues of fines and awarding of default sentences without reasoning and suspension of sentence during the pendency of the appeal, expressed its concerns about wrongful implications of innocent persons who are acquitted after long years of incarceration, and the lack of a legislative framework to provide relief to those who are wrongfully prosecuted.
The High Court, on November 30, 2017, directed the Law Commission of India to undertake a comprehensive examination of the issue of relief and rehabilitation to victims of wrongful prosecution and incarceration and the Law Commission submitted its report on August 30, 2018, but Centre has not taken appropriate steps to implement the recommendations, it said.
The plea also sought directions to implement the recommendations of the Law Commission’s report.
It further pointed out to the NCRB Annual Statistical Report called Prison Statistics India (PSI) which contains information with respect to prisons, prisoners, and prison infrastructure.
“According to PSI 2015, there were 4,19,623 prisoners across the country out of which, 67.2 per cent i.e. 2,82,076 were under trial; substantially higher than the convict population i.e. 1,34,168 (32.0 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 plea submitted.
“Due to no fear of being prosecuted by Courts and growing tendency to frame innocents for ulterior motives, there has been an unprecedented surge in filing of false cases these days by vengeful vexatious complainants who falsely implicate innocents who are acquitted after a protracted trial and have to bear the ignominy of society with no compensatory mechanism. The legal remedies available under the existing legal system and the mechanism of compensation for miscarriage of justice resulting in wrongful prosecution remain complex and uncertain,” it added.
Apart from very few cases in which the compensation was fixed at Rs 50,000, there are no statutory or legal schemes articulating State’s affective response to compensate the victims.