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Prisoner’s right to be compensated by the Court of Justice for delay in release from prison: High Court of Delhi

The High Court has powers to award monetary compensation for infraction of constitutional or other rights. The question as to the prisoner’s right to be compensated by the Court of Justice for delay in release from prison was examined by High Court of Delhi, consisting of Justice Anup Jairam Bhambhani in the matter of Sanjay Singh vs. The State (GOVT. OF NCT) of Delhi & Anr. [W.P. (CRL.) 974/2020] on 30.9.2021.

The facts of the case are that the petitioner despite having been admitted to bail vidé order dated 18.05.2020 made by the learned Metropolitan Magistrate, Dwarka Courts, New Delhi had not been released from Tihar jail. When the matter came-up for hearing for the first time on 26.06.2020, the Court was informed that the petitioner had been released from jail the previous night i.e., on 25.06.2020. Inspite thereof however, in subsequent proceedings, upon an issue being raised on behalf of the petitioner as to the delay in releasing the petitioner from prison, certain explanations were offered; and, and negligence on the part of the prison authorities was seen. Court recorded its displeasure and issued certain directions to ensure due sensitisation of prison officials about the rights of the prisoners, inter-alia mandating that prisoners must be released expeditiously once granted bail or other relief by courts.

The learned Counsel for the petitioner argued that while other compliances were made, the petitioner deserves to be compensated for the 10 days’ delay in releasing him from prison i.e., for the period between 15.06.2020, when he furnished requisite securities, and 25.06.2020 i.e., the date on which he was finally released. She relied on the verdict of the Hon’ble Supreme Court in the case of MLA vs. State of J & K & Ors., to submit that the court is entitled to award monetary compensation even by way of exemplary costs or otherwise.

the learned Counsel for respondent (appearing for the prison authorities) contended that through its various orders, this court had pursued the matter in order to streamline processes for issuance of production warrants and to ensure that there was no laxity or delay in releasing prisoners who had been admitted to bail, in so far as the petitioner’s own case is concerned, that stood closed and no further relief ought to be granted to the petitioner.

The High Court of Delhi held that in the present case, the petitioner has not placed any material on record to substantiate a case of ‘mischief’ or ‘malicious intent’ as would warrant the grant of monetary compensation in-line with the verdict of the Supreme Court in the above case. While in an appropriate case, this court certainly has powers to award monetary compensation for infraction of constitutional or other rights, but in the present case, there is nothing to make-out a case of mischief or malice and therefore, there is no basis for award of any compensation. In view of the above, the Court found no merit in the petitioner’s plea for awarding compensation and the plea was accordingly rejected. The writ petition was accordingly disposed of.

Judgment reviewed by Shristi Suman.read judgment

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