Punjab and Haryana high court awards ₹20.84 lakh compensation to family of sacrilege case accused killed in Nabha jail
The Punjab and Haryana high Court bench of justice Raj Mohan Singh directed that the amount of ₹20.84 lakh compensation be paid to the family members of sacrilege case accused, who was killed in Nabha jail, within a period of three months
The Punjab and Haryana high court has awarded ₹20.84 lakh compensation to the family members of an accused in the 2015 sacrilege case, who was murdered in Nabha jail in 2019.
The high Court bench of justice Raj Mohan Singh directed that the amount of compensation be paid to the family members within a period of three months, failing which the claimants would be entitled to the interest at the rate of 6 percent per annum from the date of expiry of three months till actual realisation of the amount. Earlier, the government had given a compensation of ₹1 lakh to the family.
Dera Sacha Sauda follower Mohinder Pal Singh Bittu was murdered in the Nabha jail. Bittu, who was booked in the 2015 sacrilege cases, was arrested three years later the incidents took place. He was killed by two inmates Maninder Singh and Gursewak Singh, both serving life terms for murder, on June 22, 2019, with iron rods in Nabha jail.
The plea in high court was filed by family members of Bittu in 2020, including his wife, seeking directions to the government to pay compensation of ₹2 crore for the custodial death of Bittu.
The high court bench observed that it is a settled principle of law that the court can grant appropriate relief in case of deprivation of constitutional guarantee of life and personal liberty.
“A claim in public law of compensation for contravention of human rights and fundamental freedoms, the protection of which is guaranteed in the Constitution, is an acknowledged remedy for enforcement and protection of such rights,” the bench said, adding though such claims are based on strict liability, by resorting to constitutional remedy provided for enforcement of fundamental rights.
The family had claimed that his annual income was ₹3.52 lakh.
The court assessed the compensation on the principles laid down in motor vehicle accident cases.
The court observed that as per state’s claims, Bittu along with other inmate Rajveer Singh accompanied by a guard came out of their block without permission.
The jail employee posted at the gate of the ward sent them back by saying they could not have been sent out of the block without permission of the senior officers. It was at that juncture, they were attacked when they were returning, the state had claimed, adding that it was a case of contributory negligence to the extent coming out of the block, where he was confined, without permission.
The court observed that the jail employees, who were at fault have been punished by the competent authority by stopping their annual increments with or without cumulative effect.
“Since the compensation matters are to be adjudged with some instinct of guess work, therefore, contributory negligence to the extent of 50% can be attributed to the deceased while attempting to come out of the block without seeking permission,” the bench said, slashing the compensation by 50 percent and decided that his family be awarded ₹20.84 lakh more by the government.