On Friday, the Supreme Court declined to entertain a plea seeking direction to the government to enact laws to provide compensation and rehabilitation of persons who are acquitted after languishing in jails for wrongful prosecution and incarceration.
A Bench headed by Justice U U Lalit was not inclined to hear the plea and said that it is for the trial court to grant compensation in case of malicious prosecution and a general rule cannot be framed.
The petitioner thereafter withdrew the plea.
The plea said that if the accused is acquitted after spending many years behind bars, it naturally makes him a victim of the system.
Thus, the compensation and rehabilitation should be awarded to the acquitted person who has suffered as a result of the crime.
“When an accused is acquitted after spending many years behind bars, he/she has already lost many precious years of their lives. This happens when the person is wrongfully prosecuted and the delay in the legal system leads to the accused languishing in jail, thus the same is violative of the basic spirit of Article 21 of Constitution of India,”
Giri said that the petition was filed with the sole purpose to compensate and rehabilitate those persons who are the “victim of the legal system”, adding that the persons who are accused and later acquitted after spending many years in the jail and who have lost their respect, faced agony and are often seen far behind in the society.
The petition also sought direction for the implementation of the 277th report of the Law Commission of India on ‘Wrongful Prosecution (Miscarriage of Justice) and Legal Remedies’ (2018).
It requested that the term “victim” defined under Section 2 (wa) and in Section 357-A of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) must be interpreted to also include those persons who were wrongfully incarcerated and who were acquitted subsequently.
Section 357-A of the CrPC provides for a victim compensation scheme and the ambit of this provision must also include victims of wrongful incarceration, the plea added.
“There is no specific procedure for the courts to decide the compensation to be awarded to the person who has been wrongfully prosecuted or incarcerated by the state. This court in many cases has awarded compensation to the person acquitted after spending years in jails but the same principle is not applied in so many cases,” it further stated.
It is the duty of the government to help the acquitted person after he/she is acquitted after spending long years in jail to rehabilitate him/ her so that the person can fit back in the society and gain back his raptured reputation, the PIL submitted.
It added, “Some amount of compensation or rehabilitation scheme would help the victim of the system to gain back his/her reputation and build a fruitful life again with dignity.”