In a significant order to safeguard the liberty of citizens, the Bombay high court has ordered the collector of Gadchiroli to pay Rs 20,000 to a prisoner for illegal detention after acquittal.
The court was responding to a letter sent by Damji Pada, who was lodged in Nagpur central prison, seeking Rs5,000 compensation for each day of illegal detention and punitive action against the authorities.
Pada was apprehended by the Gadchiroli police on August 5, 2009, and was shown arrested in three criminal cases. During the course of his detention, he was acquitted in one case and released on bail in the second. As for the third case, Pada’s letter stated that he was tried and the case was fixed for judgment on March 28, 2011. He was neither produced in court on that day, nor was he intimated about the judgement. On April 2, his brother visited him in prison and said he had been acquitted and should have been released on March 28 or at the most, on March 29 morning.
An affidavit filed by the superintendent of police, Gadchiroli, stated that it was due to the negligence of constable Dilip Kumre that the judgement was not communicated to the prison on time.
The state resisted the claim for compensation on the grounds that it takes two days to reach Nagpur from Gadchiroli. The court rubbished the claim stating that the distance of 160km can be covered in four hours by the 10 to 12 bus services plying between the route, and in lesser time by a private vehicle.
“Considering the modes of communication including email and fax, even the period consumed by travel could have been saved, particularly when the personal liberty of a person was at stake,” justice Tahilramani noted.
The judge directed the authorities to pay Rs5,000 for each day of illegal detention.