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Two Women Kept In Illegal Detention For 128 Days, Madras High Court Awards Rs 5L Compensation

Upasana Sajeev
25 Sep 2022 4:15 AM GMT
Two Women Kept In Illegal Detention For 128 Days, Madras High Court Awards Rs 5L Compensation
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The Madras High Court recently directed the State to pay Rs five lakh compensation each to two women who were unauthorisedly kept in preventive detention for more than four months. "The sequence of events in the case on hand reveals beyond any doubt that it is a classic case of bureaucratic lethargy and slumber, which has played a lot in depriving the personal liberty of a...

The Madras High Court recently directed the State to pay Rs five lakh compensation each to two women who were unauthorisedly kept in preventive detention for more than four months. 

"The sequence of events in the case on hand reveals beyond any doubt that it is a classic case of bureaucratic lethargy and slumber, which has played a lot in depriving the personal liberty of a citizen guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution of India," said the division bench of Justice S Vaidyanathan and Justice AD Jagdish Chandira. 

The women had been taken into preventive custody, on the basis of an order by the District Magistrate of Nagapattinam district, after being declared bootleggers. Even though the Advisory Board on March 16 had opined that there was no sufficient cause for their detention, the revocation order was passed only on July 22 after court intervention.

Referring to the provisions of Tamil Nadu Act No. 14 of 1964, the court said the state government was required to revoke the detention order and release the person forthwith after Advisory Board's opinion.

"The terms "shall revoke" and "released forthwith" in Section 12(2) of Act 14 of 1982 read together express a strong assertion of the legislature in protecting the personal liberty as guaranteed under the Constitution of India," said the court.

After the two women, Muthulakshmi and Sathiya, were detained as Bootleggers, their families had moved the Madras High Court by way of  habeas corpus petitions alleging that they were kept in illegal detention.

The court in the orders dated September 21 noted that the record reveals after Advisory Board's opinion was received on March 16, the file was immediately circulated for approval of the minister. It added that though the Ministry granted approval on March 17, the revocation order was passed only on July 22 by the Home, Prohibition and Excise Department after the matter reached court and displeasure was expressed on July 21. 

After the court sought a report on the reason for such delay in passing the revocation order, the government in response said the delay was caused due to failure on the part of the Assistant Section Officer and the Section Officer in following up the file with the Minister's Office. The state also submitted that necessary departmental action has been initiated against erring officials.

The court in the judgement said the personal liberty guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution, is extended to all persons regardless of the circumstance in which the person is placed. It extends even to a person undergoing imprisonment as a convict and the person does not lose his fundamental right merely because of a preventive detention order, added the bench.

The court also relied on various Supreme Court judgments to emphasise on the duty of the State to protect the fundamental right of liberty given to all persons by the Constitution.

"While it is the duty of the court to see that any individual, who crosses the boundaries carved out by law is dealt appropriately, it is also the foremost duty of the courts to uphold the dignity of personal liberty," said the bench.

Thus, in view of the illegal detention of 128 days, the court directed the State to compensate the detenues within six months. It added the amount could be adjusted towards any amount awarded to the detainess by way of damages, if they decided to move a civil suit for damages.

Case Title: Manokaran v. State

Case No: HCP. No.297 of 2022

Citation: 2022 LiveLaw (Mad) 412

Counsel for the Petitioner: Mr.K.A.S.Prabhu

Counsel for the Respondents: Mr.Mohamed Ali Jinnah, State Public Prosecutor assisted by Mr. M.Babu Muthumeeran Addl. Public Prosecutor

Click here to read/download the judgment


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