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Finally, innocent man gets his due

The Orissa High Court has directed the state Govt to pay Rs 8 lakh in damages to a man who spent 14 years in jail for a murder he did not commit, reports Soumyajit Pattnaik.
By Soumyajit Pattnaik | None, Bhubaneswar
UPDATED ON AUG 24, 2007 04:23 AM IST

The Orissa High Court early this week directed the state government to pay Rs 8 lakh in damages to a man who spent 14 years in jail for a murder he did not commit, nine of those after his acquittal.

Pratap Nayak lived a prisoner’s life from December 1989 to January 2003. He should have been set free in 1994, when the high court acquitted him. But the acquittal order never reached the Phulbani district jail authorities. He was finally released on January 22, 2003.

Nayak’s counsel Prabir K. Das told HT: “The high court has directed the state government to award compensation of Rs 8 lakh to Pratap Nayak for the violation of his fundamental right to life and personal liberty.” The government will by September 17 deposit the money with the registrar (judicial), who will issue a notice to Nayak to appear before it. After verifying Nayak’s identity, the money will be put into a fixed deposit in his name for 10 years in any nationalised bank. Nayak can draw 75 per cent of the interest every month. “On maturity of the deposit, Nayak can withdraw the entire amount,” Das said.

Departmental proceedings have also been initiated against the then clerk in the Phulbani sessions court who received his acquittal order from the high court but failed to inform the jail authorities.

Das first filed the PIL to seek compensation for Nayak in March 2005. But the high court dismissed it on the ground that the petitioner had no relationship with the victim. Das then moved the Supreme Court against the HC decision, which directed the HC to decide the case.

The long years have taken their toll on Nayak, who has been diagnosed with negative schizophrenia.

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