While hearing a disabled lawyer's petition seeking enhanced compensation for alleged human rights violation during his arrest and subsequent time in jail, the bench of Justice R Subramanian and Justice K Kumaresh Babu observed that mere non-provision of certain amenities during a short stay inside the jail shall not amount to human rights violation.
The petitioner, Muruganantham is affected with Becker's Muscular Dystrophy which is a progressively worsening locomotive disability. He contended that after he was arrested on false charges and without following any of the arrest guidelines, the human rights violations continued inside the prison also.
The State Human Rights Commission, after looking at the prison records found that the petitioner was admitted in the prison dispensary and was given proper treatment. Thus, it found that the prison officials could not be made liable. This was challenged by the petitioner in the high court.
The petitioner had contended that he required regular physiotherapy which was denied to him during his incarceration of 10 days. He was also not given proper treatment or food in the jail, it was alleged.
Looking into the Jail records, the court noted that the petitioner was in fact kept in the jail dispensary and was given certain special amenities. He was also given special diet including milk.
Thus it observed, mere non-provision of certain amenities which would amount to a statutory violation may not strictly amount to Human Rights Violation. While arrest and incarceration of the petitioner could be said to be a Human Rights Violation, the non-provision of certain amenities or treatment during a short period of incarceration, in our opinion, will not amount to a serious human rights violation, Court added.
"No doubt, we find that the petitioner is justified to a certain extent in his contentions that proper treatment and proper food was not given to him when he suffered incarceration for about 10 days. But, if we are to pose a question as whether that would by itself amount to a Human Right Violation, the answer would be negative."
The court thus found that there was no human rights violation by the jail authorities and held that they were not liable.
So far as petitioner's arrest is concerned, the High Court found several acts of commissions and omissions by the Police Department and noted that even the arrest guidelines laid down in Arnesh Kumar case were not followed. Thus it observed,
"The responsibility of the Police Officer handling a physically disabled person is much more, he /she should be doubly careful and exercise more restraint while handling a physically disabled person. Evidently, there has been some excess...If the Police Officers despite knowledge of the fact that they are dealing with a physically disabled person behave in inhumane manner and arrest such person with a certain illegal object in mind, the action of the Police Officer should not only be condemned, but he should also be penalised for such behaviour."
Accordingly, the Court enhanced
the compensation by Rs. 4 lakh and directed the same to be borne by the State.
Case Title: Muruganantham v State
Citation: 2022 LiveLaw (Mad) 490