[Answered] Do you agree that India needs a right to compensation for wrongful arrests & detention? Give reasons for your arguments.

Introduction: Contextual introduction.
Body: Explain why there is a need for a right to compensation for wrongful arrests & detention. Also write some issues with it.
Conclusion: Write some suggestions.

India does not have a law on the grant of compensation to those maliciously prosecuted. However, constitutional courts do exercise their vast powers sometimes to award monetary recompense and the remedy of a civil suit is also available in law, but it is time-consuming. The Law Commission of India has recommended enactment of a law to make compensation in such cases an enforceable right.

Need of right to compensation for wrongful arrests & detention:

  • Apart from psychological effects, there may be other varied effects on the person like damage to health, loss of income or earnings, costs of legal fees, and loss of opportunities (of education, of possibilities of livelihood, future earning abilities, skills) etc.
  • Unlawful arrests and detention not only cause loss of years, but can also create social stigma and ostracisation even after release.
  • A statutory right to compensation will provide a legal remedy to the citizens and will subsequently make the state officials, in particular, the police, institutionally liable.
  • Furthermore, wrongful arrests lead to the violation of not only the arrestee’s rights, but also other harms in multiple forms like free to commit more offences; the additional expenditure on the maintenance of the detainee in prison; the addition to the backlog of cases pending before an overburdened judiciary.

Concerns:

  • The currently available remedies only create an ex-gratia obligation, and not a statutory obligation on the state to compensate.
  • While courts have directed the payment of compensation, the criminal justice system does not provide for an effective response from the state to the victims of miscarriage of justice, resulting in wrongful prosecutions.
  • India being a signatory to the ICCPR (International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights), has failed to enact such laws.

Way forward:

  • Currently, Section 358 of the Cr.P.C. provides for a paltry fine to be imposed on a person on whose complaint a person is arrested without sufficient grounds. Such provisions should be expanded to cover just compensation by the state for unnecessary arrests.
  • The compensation awarded by courts today in cases of illegal arrest and detention is arbitrary, unjust, and inequitable. Parity in terms of compensation for all is the need of the hour.
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