New Delhi: The Allahabad high court has directed the Uttar Pradesh government to strictly implement its policy of paying Rs 25,000 in compensation to a person who has been illegally detained, and to initiate disciplinary action against erring officials.
The court was hearing a petition moved by one Shiv Kumar Verma, who alleged that he and another person were illegally detained by the police on the apprehension of breach of public peace. The petitioner concerned had a dispute with some of his relatives regarding an ancestral property, according to Hindustan Times.
Verma was arrested by the Varanasi police on October 8 last year. On October 12, he filed relevant papers seeking his release, but for verification of papers, the case was adjourned till October 21. The petitioner alleged that he was illegally detained from October 12 to October 21 despite submitting personal bond and other papers as directed. He demanded compensation for the period.
The division bench of Justice S.P. Kesarwani and Justice Shamim Ahmed said: “Public authorities acting in violation of constitutional or statutory provisions oppressively are accountable for their behaviour before authorities created under the statute like the commission or the courts entrusted with the responsibility of maintaining the rule of law.”
Referring to the Supreme Court in the case of Lucknow Development Authority Vs MK Gupta (1994), the court said: “Once it is found by the competent authority that a complainant is entitled to compensation for the inaction of those who are entrusted under the Act to discharge their duties in accordance with law, then payment of the amount may be made to the complainant from the public fund immediately but it may be recovered from those who are found responsible for such unpardonable behaviour.”
While stating that an ordinary citizen fighting their case wouldn’t be able to match the might of the state or its organs, the court said, “If a public functionary acts maliciously or oppressively and the exercise of power results in harassment and agony then it is not an exercise of power but its abuse.”
The court also said that when a public authority acts with mala fide intentions resulting in agony and harassment of ordinary citizen, the authority concerned “can no more claim to be under a protective cover and the test of the permissive form of grant gets over”.
The court also directed the Uttar Pradesh government to publish the contents (Para 12) relating to its policy dated March 21 which enunciates compensation to be paid to the person who is illegally detained in the largest circulated newspaper in the state. The policy concerned also states that the report of disciplinary action against erring officials should be submitted within three months, or any such period prescribed under the applicable rules.
The state government has also been directed to display the policy at prominent places within public view, in all blocks, Tehsil headquarters, police stations and in the campus of district collectorates. The court also told the government to send its order copy to all district- and tehsil-level bar associations across the state.