RudulSah V/s the State of Bihar

By – Lakshay Sharma

In the Supreme Court of India

Name of the CaseRudulSah V/s the State of Bihar
Citation1983 AIR 1086
Date of the Case1st August 1983
PetitionerRudulSah
Respondent(s) The State of Bihar
Bench/JudgesY. V. Chandrachud (CJI), A. N. Sen & R. B. Misra
Statutes/Constitution InvolvedThe Constitution of India
Important Sections/ArticlesA 21, 32 of the Constitution of India

Abstract

The Constitution of India provides various rights to a human being and various safeguards for those rights as well. A person’s liberty and freedom are of utmost importance and cant be fazed off in any way.

There have been cases where people were illegally deprived of their liberty, or detained unlawfully. It is for the same purpose the Constitution of India prescribes some writs available to everyone to seek justice for the atrocities put on them.

This is what exactly happened in the case of Rudulsah, who later via a writ petition sought justice against the atrocities.

Introduction

RudulSah Vs the State of Bihar is the case where auxiliary compensation was considered as a mandatory one under A 21 of the Indian Constitution as one needs resources to enjoy the right to life after a person’s release who was detained illegally.

State liability was the other area, this case focused upon, how the negligence of the erroneous decision of the state led a person to go through so much, even though he was acquitted by the court.

The state was responsible and was deemed liable to pay for the compensation to the victim here.

Background of the Case

  • Rudul Sah, the petitioner here was arrested in 1953 for the murder of his wife under S 302 IPC. On 3 June 1968, the additional session judge of the court of sessions Muzaffarnagar, Bihar acquitted him and declared him innocent, and directed his release from prison.
  • However, Rudul Sah after being acquitted had to serve another 14 years in prison based on the order: “The accused is acquitted, but should be detained in prison until further orders are received from the state government and the IG of prison.”[1] 
  • Rudul Sah was finally released from prison on 16 October 1982, after which he filed a PIL seeking relief for the atrocities he had gone through even after his acquittal like ancillary relief including payment for his rehabilitation, medical services & compensation for the period he was illegally imprisoned for more than 14 years as per the orders from the state government.
  • The state gave the reason for detention post acquittal to be the insanity of RudulSah and that he was treated for the time he was in prison.

Facts of the Case

  • It was found that RudulSah had murdered his wife in 1953 and was arrested by police for the same.
  • The trial for the murder case was ongoing in the Sessions Court of Muzaffar Nagar, Bihar.
  • RudulSah was in prison for 15 years for the charge of murder of his wife.
  • In 1968, the Muzaffar Nagar sessions court acquitted him, and was declared innocent.
  • RudulSah was to be released from prison after 15 years of imprisonment after his acquittal from the Sessions Court.
  • According to another order passed, he was detained illegally for another 14 years in prison stating he had to be detained in the prison until further orders from the state.
  • In 1982, after his final release, a haebus corpus writ petition was filed in the apex court for the relief for injustice.
  • According to the state, he was detained based on his insanity, which had no factual evidence in the form of any diagnosis or treatment provided to him.
  • A PIL was filed under A. 32 of the Indian Constitution seeking relief for infringement of his fundamental rights.
  • RudulSah sought his release from illegal detention, and ancillary relief such as rehabilitation and compensation through this petition.

Issues Raised

  • Can the Supreme Court award compensation under A. 32 of the Constitution of India for breach of a fundamental right?
  • Is the right to compensation for violations of fundamental rights covered under the A. 21 of the Constitution of India?

Arguments of the Petitioner

  • No proof proves that the petitioner was insane on the date of acquittal.
  • The petitioner could not have been tried at all if he was reported insane on the date of acquittal, based on an insane person can’t defend themselves Under the Code of Criminal Procedure.
  • There are certain statutory rights for insane persons concerning the procedure governing their trial. 
  • There is no proof of any sort of treatment provided to the petitioner for insanity.
  • Why’d it taken 14 years for the treatment of the insanity of the petitioner?
  • The petitioner was released while the PIL came into the Supreme Court as a contention that, the petitioner was already released and thus the petition was pointless.

Arguments by the Respondents

  • Upon his acquittal, the petitioner was not released from jail based on that he was insane.
  • The petitioner was already released when he filed the petition after his treatment.
  • Thus the relief sought by the petitioner for his release becomes pointless. 
  • Affidavit of the Jailer states, the petitioner was insane and it was ordered to keep him in detention until further order.

Related Provisions

Article 21 in The Constitution Of India 1949

21. Protection of life and personal liberty No person shall be deprived of his life or personal liberty except according to procedure established by law.[2]

Article 32 in The Constitution Of India 1949

32. Remedies for enforcement of rights conferred by this Part

(1) The right to move the Supreme Court by appropriate proceedings for the enforcement of the rights conferred by this Part is guaranteed.

(2) The Supreme Court shall have the power to issue directions or orders or writs, including writs like habeas corpus, mandamus, prohibition, quo warranto, and certiorari, whichever may be appropriate, for the enforcement of any of the rights conferred by this Part

(3) Without prejudice to the powers conferred on the Supreme Court by clause ( 1 ) and ( 2 ), Parliament may by law empower any other court to exercise within the local limits of its jurisdiction all or any of the powers exercisable by the Supreme Court under clause ( 2 )

(4) The right guaranteed by this article shall not be suspended except as otherwise provided for by this Constitution[3]

Judgment

  • The Government was asked, on what basis was the petitioner illegally imprisoned/detained for more than  14 years even after his acquittal, and to prove the claim of the petitioner being insane as per the government and what treatment or diagnosis was provided and whether it took 14 years for his treatment?
  • Even if the petitioner was insane, he still had some rights and he couldn’t be detained for 14 years and thus government’s treatment was completely ruthless and declared Rudul Sah’s post acquittal imprisonment unjustified.
  • The court held the right to compensation was a palliative measure to provide the right to life under A. 21 of the Constitution of India because just releasing the unlawful detainees is not enough and they should be provided with the means to support their life post-release from prison.
  • Thus, the petitioner was provided the compensation of Rs. 30000 as an interim measure to be paid by the State Government in addition to the Rs. 5000 already paid.
  • The state liability was questioned as well and as to why the state didn’t pay attention to an acquitted person and still kept him under detention.
  • It was concluded, the petition was not to recover damages from the state but for release of the petitioner and the court couldn’t just ignore the injustice that was done to the petitioner, thus awarding a palliative compensation to the petitioner as he couldn’t be left penniless after going through so much.

Conclusion

The case of Rudul Sah V/s State of Bihar, worked as a landmark case in the field of state liability, as the state wasn’t held liable for its unjust actions till then and they were not answerable to anyone. 

The compensation of Rs. 30000 provided to the petitioner here was quite low in comparison to what he had suffered in the prison, even after he was declared innocent and there was no means by which his life could be in a better state after unlawful detention.

Even the acquittal in which the petitioner was declared innocent by the court of sessions took 16 years to make the judgment which is indeed a very long time for an innocent to be imprisoned and in addition, 14 years of unlawful detention after the acquittal is worse. And the judgment does not provide anything as a remedy for those 16 years.


[1] The order was passed by the Additional Sessions Judge, Muzaffarpur on 30.08.1968

[2] The Constitution of India,  Article 21, No. 1, Central Government Act, 1950[IND]

[3] The Constitution of India,  Article 32, No. 1, Central Government Act, 1950[IND]

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