Supreme Court of India Today has directed the Government of Madhya Pradesh to grant a sum of Rs.5,00,000/- (rupees five lakhs only) each towards compensation to two Women who were arrested in violation of law. In a Judgment pronounced Today, the Bench comprising of Justices Dipak Mishra and Shiva Kirti Singh has also quashed the proceedings against them pending before the Magistrate Court under Section 66-A(b) of Information Technology Act read with Section 420 and 34 of the IPC.
On 27.11.2012, the petitioners (a Doctor and a Lawyer) were arrested from their residence at Pune based on an FIR registered against them under Section 420 and 34 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and Section 66-D of the Information Technology Act, 2000. Various assertions have been made by the Petitioner as regards the legality of the arrest which covers the spectrum of non-presence of the witnesses at the time of arrest of the petitioners, non-mentioning of date, and arrest by unauthorized officers, etc. It is also asserted after they were arrested, they were taken from Pune to Bhopal in an unreserved railway compartment marked – ‘viklang’ (handicapped). Despite request, the petitioner no.2, an old lady, was not taken to a doctor, and was compelled to lie on the cold floor of the train compartment without any food and water. Indignified treatment and the humiliation faced by the petitioners have been mentioned in great detail. On 28.11.2012, they were produced before the Magistrate at Bhopal and the petitioner no. 2 was enlarged on bail after being in custody for about 17 days and the petitioner no.1 was released after more than three weeks.
On 19.2.2015 the petitioners filed an application for discharge and the Magistrate passed an order discharging the petitioners in respect of the offence punishable under Section 66-D of the Act. However, Magistrate had opined that there is prima facie case for the offence punishable under Section 66-A(b) of the Act read with Section 420 and 34 of the IPC.
Supreme Court found that various guidelines issued by the Court in D.K.Basu Case and other Cases have been violated. It is urged on behalf of the Petitioners that Section 66-A(b) of the Information Technology Act, 2000 provides maximum sentence of three years and Section 420 CrPC stipulates sentence of seven years and, therefore, it was absolutely imperative on the part of the arresting authority to comply with the procedure postulated in Section 41-A of the Code of Criminal Procedure.
The Bench said that the dignity of the petitioners, a doctor and a practicing Advocate has been seriously jeopardized.
“It is also clear that liberty of the petitioner was curtailed in violation of law. The freedom of an individual has its sanctity. When the individual liberty is curtailed in an unlawful manner, the victim is likely to feel more anguished, agonized, shaken, perturbed, disillusioned and emotionally torn. It is an assault on his/her identity. The said identity is sacrosanct under the Constitution. Therefore, for curtailment of liberty, requisite norms are to be followed. The two ladies have been arrested without following the procedure and put in the compartment of a train without being produced before the local Magistrate from Pune to Bhopal”
“We are compelled to say so as liberty which is basically the splendor of beauty of life and bliss of growth, cannot be allowed to be frozen in such a contrived winter. That would tantamount to comatosing of liberty which is the strongest pillar of democracy”. The Bench added.
The Bench held that the Petitioners are entitled to compensation since there has been violation of Article 21 and the petitioners were compelled to face humiliation. The Court has directed the Govt to pay Compensation of 5 Lakh each to the Petitioners within 3 Months. The Court has made it clear that it will be open to the State to proceed against the erring officials, if so advised.
Read the Judgment here.