Allahabad HC directs State to pay compensation to persons illegal detained

Deepali Kalia – 

Allahabad High Court recently directed the State government to strictly implement its policy of giving compensation to citizens who have been illegally detained and emphasized that granting of compensation for harassment by public authorities not only satisfies the individual but also aids in eliminating social evil.

The policy of the State government to pay Rs 25,000 compensation to any citizen illegally detained by any officer of the State and initiating disciplinary proceedings against such an officer was appreciated by the Bench of Justice Surya Prakash Kesarwani and Justice Shamim Ahmed.

The Court was dealing with the illegal detention of 2 individuals who despite the submission of personal bond and other papers as instructed under the pretext of verification, continued to be under detention and as a result, challenged their illegal detention before the Court.

“Public authorities acting in violation of constitutional or statutory provisions oppressively are accountable for their behaviour before authorities created under the statute like the commission or the courts entrusted with the responsibility of maintaining the rule of law.” The Court stated.

The Allahabad High Court referred to the ruling of the Supreme Court in the case of Lucknow Development Authority Vs. M.K. Gupta (1994) 1 SCC 243 and remarked that, “Once it is found by the competent authority that a complainant is entitled to compensation for the inaction of those who are entrusted under the Act to discharge their duties in accordance with law, then payment of the amount may be made to the to the complainant from the public fund immediately but it may be recovered from those who are found responsible for such unpardonable behaviour.”

Since an ordinary citizen cannot match the might of the State or its instrumentalities, therefore if a public authority acts maliciously or oppressively while exercising its power and it results in harassment and agony, then it is not an exercise of power but its abuse, the Court opined.

Harassment of an ordinary citizen, the Court stressed, is legally impermissible, abhorrent and not only harms the individual personally but also leads to society sustaining a far more grievous injury.

“An ordinary citizen instead of complaining and fighting succumbs to the pressure of undesirable functioning in offices instead of standing  against it…In modern society, no authority can arrogate to itself the power to act in a manner that is arbitrary. It is unfortunate that matters which require immediate attention linger on and the man in the street is made to run from one end to another with no result,” the Court remarked.

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