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Compensation for wrongfully arresting a person

If a person is wrongly arrested has all the right to claim compensation from the state. This comes under Article 21 and Article 22 of the Indian constitution as a fundamental right in India. As an aspect of victim compensation and discusses a wide scope for innocent under trial prisoners undergoing a long period of wrongfully arresting and the harmful effect for the prisoners. Various provisions in the Indian constitution enable the victims, wrongfully arrested to approach the court for compensation and can claim compensation. 

A famous quote by the English jurist William Blackstone that ‘It is better that ten guilty can escape than that one innocent suffer. The principle of law is recognized as a fundamental element of the legal system operating in a modern democracy. There are cases where prisoners are arrested for more than 5 years due to excessive pendency of the cases at the various courts. The data from National Judicial Data Grid highlights the fact that there are a large number of under-trial prisoners in India who may remain in jail in India. Apart from people who might be wrongfully kept in a locked room, some people might be wrongfully convicted by one or more courts and some people are acquitted by the higher court and some are wrongfully arrested and detained by the police. The wrongful conviction leaves a lifetime of scars on his/her life. The loss of precious and irrecoverable time and years of one’s life has been destroyed.

Where there is a problem there is a solution from a judicial perspective. We call it a remedy and that remedy for wrongful prosecution or conviction finds its roots in the Indian constitution. Such wrongful acts by the state can be taken as a violation of fundamental rights under Article 21(Protection of the right of life and liberty), and Article 22(Protection against arbitrary arrest and illegal detention). Victims who undergo such violations can claim compensation from the Supreme Court or High Court under Article 32 and Article 226 of the Constitution through the filing of the writ petition. 

There are various ways to provide compensation such as monetary compensation, provision of immediate services in housing, food, medical care, assistance with the education and the development of workforce skills and to obtain public benefits, child custody of children, expunge from criminal offences. 

The right to compensation for wrongful prosecution, incarceration and convictions has been recognised by various international conventions in International covenants on Civil and political rights lays down the civil and political liberties of individuals. The right to compensation is laid down under Article 14(6) of the international covenants. 

The Supreme Court has taken extremely positive steps and made huge changes in evolving compensatory jurisprudence to provide compensation to the victim but the right goes remedy is not universal. It depends upon the case to case basis and on the facts of each case.

Vanshika Jaiswal
Vanshika Jaiswal

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