Custodial Torture : Madras HC Upholds the Decision of Sessions Court To Award One Lakh Compensation To The Victim [Read Judgment]
The Single Bench of the Madras High Court, Justice Subramoniun Prasad upheld the judgement of the Sessions Judge awarding compensation of Rs. 1,00,000/- to the victim who suffered torture, bodily injury and humiliation while in custody.
The victim filed a petition before the Principal District and Sessions Judge for the custodial torture inflicted on him. Though the state filed a counter contending that the victim's mother had already approached the Courts under the Human Rights Act. Since the Principal District and Sessions Judge had already granted Rs. 3,500/- as compensation, the State contended that the victim cannot claim compensation two times for the same incident.
The Sessions Judge after going through the facts, ordered that the victim was illegally detained and granted a sum of Rs. 1 lakh as compensation for the physical torture, humiliation and oain caused to the victim to be paid by the State Government which is vicariously liable for the acts of the police. The appeal was filed on this impugned order.
The Single Bench relied on some landmark judgments of the Supreme Court taking into account the findings rendered by the Sessions Judge. In D.K.Basu v. State of West Bengal the apex court quoted several authors defining "torture" and said that, "In all custodial crimes what is of real concern is not only infliction of body pain but the mental agony which a person undergoes within the four walls of police station or lockup. Whether it is physical assault or rape in police custody, the extent of trauma, a person experiences is beyond the purview of law."
In Selvi v. State of Karnataka the apex court held as,
" … The popular perceptions of terms such as 'torture' and 'cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment' are associated with gory images of blood-letting and broken bones. However, we must recognise that a forcible intrusion into a person's mental processes is also an affront to human dignity and liberty, often with grave and long-lasting consequences. [A similar conclusion has been made in the following paper: Marcy Strauss, 'Criminal Defence in the Age of Terrorism — Torture'.
In Mehmood Nayyar Azam v. State of Chattisgarh apex court said,
" It is imperative to state that it is the sacrosanct duty of the police authorities to remember that a citizen while in custody is not denuded of his fundamental right under Article 21 of the Constitution. The restrictions imposed have the sanction of law by which his enjoyment of fundamental right is curtailed but his basic human rights are not crippled so that the police officers can treat him in an inhuman manner."
Along with these cases, the court also relied on S. Nambi Narayan v. Siby Mathews & Ors., where the apex court said regarding the compensation against the state,
" It is thus now well settled that the award of compensation against the State is an appropriate and effective remedy for redress of an established infringement of a fundamental right under Article 21, by a public servant. The quantum of compensation will, however, depend upon the facts and circumstances of each case. Award of such compensation (by way of public law remedy) will not come in the way of the aggrieved person claiming additional compensation in a civil court, in the enforcement of the private law remedy in tort, nor come in the way of the criminal court ordering compensation under Section 357 of the Code of Criminal Procedure."
Thus relying on these cases, the court dismissed the appeal and upheld the compensation of Rs.1 lakh awarded by the Sessions Judge to the victim for the physical torture and humiliation to be paid by the State Government who is vicariously liable for the action of the public servant.
Case Title : The State of Tamil Nadu v. S. Anand
Case No: W.A. No. 3806 of 2019 and C.M.P.No. 24031 of 2019
Corum : Justice Subramonium Prasad
Appearances : APP (for the appellants)