The Chhattisgarh HC on 19th July directed the State Government to pay Rs. 15 lakh to the legal heirs surviving the custodial death of a school teacher who was illegally detained in police custody and died due to, as per the post mortem report, vasovagal shock due to multiple injuries indicating brutal torture while in such illegal custody.
Justice Goutam Bhaduri, in Ramkhilawan Dansena v State of Chhattisgarh, held that the state machinery has failed every step of the inquiry, starting from detaining the teacher following an altercation with the police officer, police brutality, late information of death to the relatives, up to the point of attempting to fabricate medical reports to shelve the liability of the officers at fault.
Court relied on its 1983 judgment Rudul Sah v State of Bihar, wherein it was held that,
“The right to compensation is some palliative for the unlawful acts of instrumentalities which act in the name of public interest and which present for their protection the powers of the State as a shield. If civilization is not to perish in this country as it has perished in some others too well-known to suffer mention, it is necessary to educate ourselves into accepting that, respect for the rights of individuals is the true bastion of democracy. Therefore, the State must repair the damage done by its officers to the petitioner’s rights. It may have recourse against those officers.”
Court also relied on the landmark 1997 DK Basu judgment where it was held that a victim of unnatural death is no less a victim than any other merely because he is a criminal or accused of an alleged crime; the next of kin will be equally compensated depending on restitution principles.
“Taking into various proposition, therefore, and the fact that the deceased left behind his father, mother, wife and one daughter, it would be proper in the facts of this case to award compensation of Rs 15 Lakhs to the legal heirs of the deceased within a period of two months from today. It is ordered accordingly. In absence of such payment, it will carry an interest of Rs 9% p.a. Out of the compensation amount if, so paid, rupees 4 lakhs would be paid to the petitioners namely Ramkhilawan Dansena & Smt Keshar Bai, who are the father & mother i.e. 2 Lakhs each and out of remaining 11 Lakhs; 6 Lakhs would paid to the daughter Rashi”, said Justice Goutam Bhaduri, high Court of Chhattisgarh, Bilaspur.
Since the compensation is granted out of the government exchequer for the negligence and crime committed by a few officers, the court put the authorities at liberty to have recourse for recovery against those officers, if so desired.
-India Legal Court