New Delhi: The country's largest prison Tihar has been asked by the Central Information Commission to develop a system of giving compensation to inmates who have been incarcerated for a duration more than their sentence period.
The Commission has also directed the prison authorities to suo moto disclose the process of compensation to such prisoners as part of their obligation under the Right to Information Act.
"Strangely the courts treated the MLA and the common man differently in awarding compensation. A poor prisoner Rudul Shah got Rs 30,000 for 14 years of extra detention, while an MLA Bhim Singh was given Rs 50,000 for one day's false imprisonment. In a recent case, another poor citizen got just Rs 50,000 for 113 days of imprisonment," Information Commissioner Sridhar Acharyulu pointed out in his order.
Deciding the plea of one OP Gandhi who claimed to have spent four day more than the court order in Tihar, Acharyulu said he must be paid token compensation by the prison authorities at the rate of Rs 2500 per day along with an additional Rs 1000 for costs borne by him.
"The State is expected to give people friendly administration. The jail authorities cannot breach the rights of prisoners and refuse any remedy. If this educated and courageous appellant has not brought out this issue of extra detention, it would have been not possible for anyone to know the breach of his constitutional and human rights," he said.
Acharyulu observed that when the order of remission was issued on August 11, 2014, the appellant should have been released on that day itself.
"The authorities knew that the appellant has to be released on that day as per the remission order, yet he was detained till August 15, 2014. He could have been given benefit of four days of remission, if not 15 days. Sanjiv Kumar (Tihar CPIO) contended that, though order was given on August 11, 2014, it would come into operation on August 15, 2014 and hence there was no extra detention," he said.
The Commissioner said the order copy does not disclose any date of its commencement and it specifically stated that it would apply to all convicts who maintained good conduct and not punished during a year preceding up to August 14, 2014.
"Sanjiv Kumar further contended that as order was received on 12th and hence it will operate from 13th. This is highly unreasonable, illogical and against the legal right of the prisoner. It cannot be accepted. Personal liberty can be curtailed only in accordance with the procedure established by law as per Article 21 of the Constitution," he said.
The Commissioner said thousands of prisoners might be languishing in jail for no fault of them beyond their entitled release date, because of miscalculation or negligent calculation of remission.
"Their right to liberty is totally dependent on the officers knowledge/efficiency in calculation. If a being has to lose his precious personal liberty for such silly reasons, can it still be called a good administration.”
"No person shall be deprived of life and liberty except in accordance with procedure established by law, is the time tested principle of life and liberty guaranteed by all democratic constitutions in the world and by the Indian Constitution under Article 21, which cannot be violated in the jail. This cannot be breached by mistakes or negligence or red-tape or lethargy or inaction or indecision of the authorities," he said.