Victims of police torture should be compensated by erring officers and not from the taxpayers’ money, said the Supreme Court on Wednesday while asking the Chhattisgarh government to recover the damages from the delinquent officers to be paid to an ayurvedic doctor. Dr Mehmood Nayyar Azam was tortured in police custody 20 years ago.
“Why should the public money be spent? As a welfare and responsible state, you must compensate the victim and recover it from the erring police officers,” a bench of Justice KS Radhakrishnan and Justice Dipak Misra told the Chhattisgarh counsel Atul Jha.
It frowned upon the state government’s decision rejecting Azam’s plea for compensation.
The court said: “Recover (money) from the police officers so that such incidents do not happen in future.” The SC, however, advised Azam to reduce the damages sought by him from Rs 10 lakh to Rs 5 lakh.
According to Azam’s counsel Neeraj Sharma, the doctor worked as a social activist in Chhattisgarh’s Chimri district when the police allegedly booked him in a false case of theft of electricity. Azam was illegally detained on September 23, 1992 and beaten up. He was also photographed with a banner declaring him a thief.
On his release, Azam learnt his photograph was widely circulated and that the police had also attempted to molest his wife by visiting his house. The incident left his wife mentally unstable. When things did not progress despite his representation to the NHRC, Azam moved the high court in 2001.
A decade later, the court declared the officers guilty but asked Azam to approach the state government for compensation. An aggrieved Azam moved the SC and claimed the state was entitled to pay him damages as an internal inquiry found the officers guilty.