The Madhya Pradesh High Court recently directed the State Government to pay Rs. 3 Lakh compensation to a prisoner who remained in jail illegally for a period of almost 4 years. The Court also ordered an inquiry on the delay in releasing the prisoner from jail.

The Bench of Justice S.A. Dharmadhikari held thus "In view of the aforesaid and the fact that the petitioner was kept in illegal detention for almost 4 years the State Government is directed to pay him the compensation of Rs.3 lakhs within a period of 2 months from the date of receipt of certified copy of the order."

In this case an FIR was registered against the prisoner for the offence of murder. He was convicted and sentenced to rigorous imprisonment for life by the Trial Court. Being aggrieved by this decision, he preferred a criminal appeal whereby the conviction of the accused under Section 302 was set aside and he was convicted for offence under Section 304 Part II of the Indian Penal Code. Therefore he was sentenced to 5 years of imprisonment.

The said judgment was dispatched by registered post to the Superintendent, District Jail, Chhindwara as well as the District and Sessions Judge, Chhindwara. Thus, in the normal course, even if the petitioner did not deposit the fine, he ought to have been released on 25th September 2009. But he was not released. Neither modified warrant, as required under Rule 315 of the Criminal Courts Rules and Orders was issued by the Court concerned for his release nor the jail authorities approached the Court in this regard.

The prisoner was finally released after almost 3 years 11 months and 5 days of illegal detention when the letter was sent by Advocate Arun Vishwakarma, along with the copy of the judgment made by the court of appeal, the Superintendent, District Jail, Chhindwara, informed the First Additional Sessions Judge, Chhindwara pursuant to which modified warrant was issued.

Feeling shattered by the illegal detention, the prisoner approached Madhya Pradesh High Court for compensation.

Advocate Arun Vishwakarma appearing for the prisoner-petitioner contended that the petitioner was compelled to illegal incarceration in Jail for no fault of his by the State Government or by its Officers or by the Concerned Court.

On the other hand Deputy Advocate General, Swapnil Ganguly, argued that the state government was not responsible for the delay in releasing the petitioner from jail.

The Court noted "…judgment dated 25.09.2006 passed in Cr.A. No.845/2005 was dispatched by registered post to the Superintendent, District Jail, Chhindwara as well as District Judge, Chhindwara on 04.10.2006 and thereafter super-session warrant/ release warrant was issued on 01.06.2012 without there being any explanation. Even the report of the District and Sessions Judge does not contain the explanation as to why the release warrant was issued after so much delay."

Hence the Court observed "Thus, it is clearly established that the petitioner remained in jail illegally for a period of 3 years 11 months 5 days which has resulted in violation of the fundamental right guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution of India i.e. protection of life and personal liberty."

Therefore the Court ordered compensation to the tune of Rs. 3 Lakh to be paid to the prisoner.

Taking a serious view of the matter the Court also directed the Registrar (Vigilance), Madhya Pradesh High Court, Jabalpur to immediately hold an inquiry and submit a report within a period of two months to the Registrar General as to why the modified warrant was not issued from the Court of First Additional Sessions Judge, Chhindwara.

"If any person is found responsible for the lapse, suitable action permissible in the law may also be taken against him.", the Court concluded.

Cause Title- Inder Singh v. State of MP & Ors.

Click here to read/download the Order