While refusing to entertain a PIL for framing guidelines for compensation, a bench of Justices U U Lalit and S Ravindra Bhat said it would create further complication as many of the acquittals in criminal cases are not based on merit.
It said many accused are let off on technical grounds and benefit of doubt is given to them and cannot be said to be victims of wrong prosecution.
Senior Advocate Vijay Hansariaappearing for PIL petitioner Ashwini Upadhyaysubmitted that some system has to be put in place to safeguard people against malicious and wrongful prosecution as in some cases, people end up languishing in jail even for decades before they are acquitted.
Agreeing that it was a matter of concern that people are being implicated in criminal cases and face wrongful prosecution, the bench, however, said it was not the job of the court to put in place such a mechanism. It said there is remedy available in such cases and suits can be filed and the court can also award compensation while acquitting the accused.
“The nature of relief prayed is in the realm of laying down something by way of guidelines or in the nature of legislation. It will not be possible for this court to utilise its process for these matters. The attention of Union of India and other agencies and stakeholders has been invited to the case and is now left to them to take action,” the bench said.
The petitioner alleged there had been a spurt in false cases and wrongful prosecution and incarceration of innocent persons with no effective statutory and legal mechanism available to address the same is “causing miscarriage of justice and has created a black hole in the criminal jurisprudence of our country”.
“There are many startling cases which show gross abuse of power and authority by the state and vexatious complainants, which cause absolute miscarriage of justice by irreparable damage to the right to life, liberty and dignity of innocent citizens in justice dispensation with no relief given by the courts. The Allahabad High Court acquitted Vishnu Tiwariwho spent 20 years in jail on rape charges with no compensation awarded, ignoring even the public law remedy which shows the necessity of effective compensation and legal mechanism for malicious prosecution and wrongful incarceration of innocent persons,” the petition said.
It said the Law Commission in its 277th report in 2018 also suggested such a mechanism and there are provisions for compensation in other countries also.
“India with a population of around 1.5 billion has no effective statutory/legal mechanism for wrongful prosecutions due to police and prosecutorial misconduct resulting in a pandemic of false cases which has not only destroyed the social fabric of the nation but also affected the over-burdened judiciary with alarming pendency of over 40 million cases as on date making it a impossible to secure justice for the hapless innocents who spend their precious years running around courts, with monetary compensation rarely even awarded for their wrongful prosecutions being done and any punitive actions taken against prosecutorial and police misconduct leading to miscarriage of justice.
“Due to no fear of being prosecuted by courts and growing tendency to frame innocents for ulterior motives, there has been an unprecedented surge in filing of false cases,” the petition said.