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Key Takeaways

  • A person who has been wrongly arrested is entitled to a pitiful compensation of INR 100 under Section 358 of the CrPC (1973).
  • In its 277th Report (2018), the Law Commission stated that "the current remedies simply generate an ex-gratia obligation, and do not impose a statutory obligation on the State to pay."
  • The idea behind crime victim compensation is to provide restitution to those who were harmed, while also discouraging wrongful convictions in the future.

Introduction

There is no statute governing the grant of compensation (Right to Compensation) to persons wrongfully prosecuted in India's legal system. However, constitutional courts occasionally use their authority to grant monetary compensation.

The legal remedy of a civil suit is available, but it takes time.

A person who has been wrongly arrested is entitled to a pitiful compensation of INR 100 under Section 358 of the CrPC (1973). The person whose complaint led to the victim's erroneous arrest will be held accountable for the compensation. The Magistrate has the option to decide whether to award this compensation.

The National Human Rights Commission has the authority to look into cases of unjustified arrests, detentions, convictions, incarcerations, and other human rights breaches thanks to the Protection of Human Rights Act of 1993.

If you are wrongfully convicted and incarcerated, or if you wrongly convict another, there is a crime victims compensation program that may be able to reimburse you for your time in prison. This includes attorney's fees as well as lost wages. The process is not only a way to seek recompense for people who have been wrongly imprisoned but also an attempt to discourage wrongful prosecutions by adding a financial penalty.

In its 277th Report (2018), the Law Commission stated that "the current remedies simply generate an ex-gratia obligation, and do not impose a statutory obligation on the State to pay." As a result, rather than being a requirement of the Executive, remuneration is currently at the discretion of the Judiciary (or NHRC).

Aim

The idea behind crime victim compensation is to provide restitution to those who were harmed, while also discouraging wrongful convictions in the future. It is meant to give a sense of justice and compensation to the victim, not just to make an example of the offender, who has been put in jail by the system.

What victims are eligible for these programs depends on the crime that was committed against them. The program will cover expenses or wages lost due to incarceration, as well as attorney's fees incurred throughout the trial and conviction. The amount will generally be equivalent to one-third of their pay, but it can vary from state to state.

Global Standards Regarding Right To Compensation

Several international accords have acknowledged the right to compensation for unjust arrest, detention, and conviction. Various enactments, statutes, and actions have been used to enforce it in jurisdictions all over the world.

The fundamental obligations that State parties must uphold to safeguard a person's civil and political liberty are laid out in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (1966). In Article 14.6 of the Covenant, the right to compensation for wrongful convictions is outlined.

Compensation for unjust arrest is also included in Article 5.5 of the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms.

Qualifications

To qualify for these types of programs, you will have to meet several conditions. It is recommended that you contact your local representative for the same. If you are wrongly convicted and are in prison, an attorney may be able to file on your behalf. There are several types of crime victim compensation programs in existence.

Need For The Right To Compensation Against Wrongful Arrest

Being imprisoned causes a person to feel excruciating bodily and mental pain. It undercuts the right to a dignified existence guaranteed by Article 21 of the Constitution. The lengthy processing time of the legal system makes this suffering worse. Article 22 is likewise broken by an unjustified arrest (protection against arbitrary arrests and illegal detention etc).

Further, the victim of unlawful detention may experience severe psychological effects. Long-term confinement in jail causes feelings of loss of independence, loss of identity, loss of dignity, and feelings of fury and anxiety, according to a study conducted at the University of Cleveland (US). Depression, paranoia, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) are eventually brought on by these impacts. The effects affect the victim's capacity to lead a regular life even after absolution.

Additionally, the individual who is imprisoned suffers from harm to their health, loss of income or wages, loss of property as a result of the cost of legal bills, as well as other indirect costs brought on by the unlawful prosecution.

Furthermore, because of the shame associated with imprisonment, an individual and his family may experience social isolation and reputational damage. The lost status isn't entirely recovered by an eventual acquittal.

Finally, a Right to Compensation will aid in lowering the amount of wrongful prosecution by state authorities. For instance, many persons are unjustly detained under Section 66A of the IT Act, which the Supreme Court has ruled is illegal.

Even while the State cannot give the victim back the years, family life, chances, etc. that were lost, it can nonetheless aid the victim in reintegrating back into society by giving both financial and non-financial support for the purpose.

Related Cases

In various instances, the Indian courts have defined what constitutes a miscarriage of justice brought on by unjust prosecution in the absence of a clear statutory framework consistent with the obligations under the ICCPR, particularly in its constitutional remedy jurisdictions.

The gauge for its forensic assessment of unfair prosecution is the right to a fair trial, a feature of Article 21 of the Constitution. The progression of fundamental rights law, including compensation for unfair prosecutions, may be seen from the Maneka Gandhi case to S Nambi Narayanan v. Siby Mathews &others (CIVIL APPEAL NOS. 6637-6638 of 2018).

In Rudul Shah v. the State of Bihar (1983 AIR 1086, 1983 SCR (3) 508), the Supreme Court made the following observation in 1983 when it ordered compensation for unlawful detention: "One of the telling ways in which the violation of that right can reasonably be prevented and due compliance with Article 21's mandate secured, is to mulct its violators in the payment of monetary compensation."

The Supreme Court granted the victim of an unlawful arrest and imprisonment 50,000 as compensation in Bhim Singh v. the State of J&K (AIR 1986 SC 494, 1986 CriLJ 192, 1985 (2) SCALE 1117, (1985) 4 SCC 677, 1986 (1) UJ 458 SC), another example of the episodic judgements practised in the compensation jurisdiction.

In Nilabati Behera v. the State of Orissa (Writ Petition (Crl.) No. 488 of 1988), the court emphasised the rule that sovereign immunity is not applicable in cases involving claims for damages for the infringement of basic rights and when the constitutional provisions under consideration are Articles 32 and 226. The aforementioned idea was restated in Consumer Education and Research Center& others V. Union of India (1995 AIR 922, 1995 SCC (3) 42).

But when the Supreme Court denied the request for compensation for the defendants in Sulemenbhai Ajmeri & Ors. V. State of Gujarat (CRIMINAL APPEAL NOS. 2295-2296 OF 2010), also known as the Akshardham Temple Case, who spent more than a decade in prison but were later found not guilty, it was a let-down.

The top court's denial of the compensation claim raised many eyebrows, even though the acquittal in the case was based on perversity in the prosecution's conduct from the inquiry through the conviction and punishment.

Conclusion

The ability to receive compensation depends on the type of crime that was committed against you and whether or not you were wrongly convicted as well. Many states have laws entitling certain crimes against individuals by police officers or members of law enforcement agencies.

Expenses and lost wages can also be covered under these programs, but this detail is not included in all crime victim compensation laws.

There are many different ways to protect yourself from wrongful convictions. The first thing that you should do is contact a criminal defence attorney. It might be necessary to file for a new trial, based on evidence that came forward later than the original time frame. In some cases, it might mean that you need to file a motion for termination of the litigation.

Due to the overwhelming amount of criminal cases in the Indian legal system, it is even more important for the State to protect the rights of innocent people. In this context, the Indian judicial system urgently requires a formal framework for compensating the victim and his or her family.


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