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Belittle Right To Compensation For Wrongful Conviction

Better than ten guilty person escape than one innocent suffer ~William Blackstone

There is no bitter tyranny than that of which is perpetrated under the shield of the law in the name of justice ~ Charles-Louis de Secondat

In a free and democratic society such as ours, justice should not eternally abrogate one's rights to freedom and liberty, except in most extreme cases. A judicial system is corrupt if the truth is denied the right to be a witness. As the years pass by the rate of wrongful conviction of innocent people in India have increased drastically. More innocent people are rotting in prison than ever before.Ensuring the protection of individual and the perpetuation of the principle of natural justice, law and order are the sine qua non for civilised society.

The National Judicial Grid (NJDG) shows that 26.55% of the appeals are against the convictions have been pending before High Courts for more than 10 years. This data represents plethora of backlog of the judiciary of the country. The increasing number of cases in the country can be attributed to the complex judicial system and the lack of awareness among the legal fraternity.

The unlawful detention of these people infringes their right to freedom. They also face a lot of financial difficulty as these things prevent them from being involved in social activity and generally suffer from social anxiety. They suffer a lot of psychological hardship in their life which is generally referred as PTSD. This is a type of medical condition which is developed after a traumatic effect in a persons life. A person with PTSD is at a higher risk of suicide and intentional self harm. They along with the psychological issue goes under societal pressure as well as hatred towards them due to lack of knowledge and awareness among the people.

The years that pass and the expense of victims family cannot be surpassed by the compensation which is provided to them. The person alone isn't the victim here but also the people whose life is dependent on him. In case of Mohd. Jalees Ansari v Central Bureau of Investigation, when the victim's brother filed a petition for compensation saying that we are financially and mentally drained and have no will to fight another dubious legal battle; we scarified everything we had to get my brother home. This shows that the victim alone isn't suffering but also the family of the victim too are adversely affected by these things.

Another reason why the number of cases are increasing gradually is due to lack of knowledge, awareness and mainly illiteracy and lack of proper legal aid being provided to these victims. Since many of these victims are not provided with proper legal aid they are generally unaware of the alternative for speedy trial of their case or filing a PIL which can be helpful for their case.

The journey to Supreme Court from District Court is undoubtedly complex and not may victims intend to file PIL. Research suggest that majority petitioners lost countless number of years due to the complex judicial system. The omission of a judicial procedure, lack of legal interpretation and the lack of sufficient examination of relevant facts by the prosecutor or the judiciary lead to severe obstruction of justice. The grant of reimbursement by the Supreme Court, according to the article 32 and High Court according to article 226 of the constitution is collective reparation dependent on the strict liability breaches of constitutional rights.

In case of Rudal Shah v State of Bihar for the first time found whether or not award compensation to the wrongfully convicted victims whose fundamental rights are violated. Here the petitioner was unlawfully detained for 14yrs. The Supreme Court awarded Rs.30,000 as compensation and held that the scope of article 32 is sufficiently broad to include the power to grant compensation for infringing the rights.

In Ram Lakhan Singh v Sate of UP, an amount of Rs.10Lakhs was given to t he victim who was wrongfully accused for 10yrs and also spent 11 days in jail.

In S.Nawbi Narayan v State of Kerala, the Supreme Court awarded Rs.50Lakhs as compensation to ISRO scientist who was wrongfully accused of espionage after a long battle of 24yrs was acquitted.

All these cases show the lack of consistency in the compensation provided to theses wrongfully convicted people by the judicial system which provides an utter need of the judicial system to create uniform legal framework to be made for the compensation which is provided to the victim and their family. In order to ensure justice for the poor in India, the state needs to look beyond judicial norms. The state must adopt comprehensive policy for transformation of social norms to promote legal awareness among all the sections. The state and judiciary need to make a collaborative effort to transform our country's complex system because it has been rightly said so powerful is the light of unity that it can illuminate the whole earth.

Award Winning Article Is Written By: Ms.Shifa Khan

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