Wrongful prosecution: Plea in Supreme Court seeks framing, implementation of guidelines

A plea has been filed in the Supreme Court seeking a direction to the Centre, all States and Union Territories (UTs) to frame and implement guidelines to compensate victims of "wrongful prosecution" through government machineries.

The PIL has been filed by Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader and lawyer Ashwini Upadhyay in the backdrop of a sensational case in which the Allahabad High Court, on January 28, declared rape convict Vishnu Tiwari innocent, observing that the motive behind the FIR was related to a land dispute.

Mr. Vishnu was arrested on September 16, 2000 after being booked for rape and atrocities under the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act and was in jail for 20 years.

Using the shocking ordeal of the rape accused, the plea, filed through lawyer Ashwani Kumar Dubey, has alternatively urged the apex court to "use its plenary constitutional power to frame the guidelines for compensation to victims of wrongful prosecutions and direct the Centre and states to implement them till the recommendations of the Law Commission on miscarriage of justice are implemented religiously".

The PIL has made the Union Ministries of Home Affairs, Law and Justice and the Law Commission as parties, besides all the States and UTs.

"Direct the Centre to frame guidelines for compensation to victims of wrongful prosecution and implement the recommendations of Law Commission Report No-277 on miscarriage of justice," the plea says.

It says due to cases of malicious prosecution, the injury caused to the citizens is extremely large and "because of the Centre’s inaction, citizens’ right to life, liberty and dignity, guaranteed under Article 21, is being brazenly offended".

Referring to a judgment, the plea says the Delhi High Court, while dealing with a plea on awarding sentences without reasoning, had expressed concerns about the wrongful implication of innocent persons who are acquitted after long years of incarceration and the lack of a legislative framework to provide relief to those who are wrongfully prosecuted.

"The High Court, on 30.11.2017, directed the Law Commission of India to undertake a comprehensive examination of the issue of relief and rehabilitation to victims of wrongful prosecution and incarceration and the Law Commission submitted its Report No.277 on 30.8.2018 but the Centre has not taken appropriate steps to implement the recommendations," it says.

The plea says there has been a spurt in the number of false cases and wrongful prosecution and the incarceration of innocent persons with no effective statutory and legal mechanism available to them to address the same is causing "miscarriage of justice" and has created a black hole in the criminal jurisprudence in the country.

"There are many startling cases which show the gross abuse of power and authority by the State and vexatious complainant, which caused absolute ‘miscarriage of justice’ by irreparable damage to right to life, liberty and dignity of innocent citizens in the justice dispensation with no relief given by the courts," it says.

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