Madhya Pradesh High Court dismissed a petition by a man seeking ₹10 Lakh compensation for being imprisoned beyond his sentence citing the reason that he was erroneously released early. After finding the same, the High Court directed the petitioner to surrender before the authorities and serve the remaining sentence.
The division bench of Chief Justice Ravi Malimath and Justice Vishal Mishra was hearing the writ petition filed by a person seeking ₹10 compensation from the State for excessive imprisonment.
The petitioner was convicted in three different cases- first, under Section 21(c) and Section 18(c) of NDPS Act, then under Section 307 IPC and later under Section 8 and Section 21 of NDPS Act.
While hearing the petition against his conviction, the court had noted that his sentences were to run concurrently and by that point of time, he had already completed his time in jail. Therefore, the Court ordered his immediate release.
He placed the order before jail authorities and the lower court, demanding his release. However, he was not released on the ground that he had not paid the fine amount worth Rs 2 lakhs, in lieu of which he had to spend 4 additional years in jail.
The petitioner, then, moved High Court with a petition under Section 482 CrPC before the Court. The Court disposed of his petition and directed the authorities to release him immediately if he were to pay the fine.
He filed a Habeas Corpus writ petition before the Court, submitting that he has already served his sentence and cannot be kept in jail anymore as it violates his fundamental right under Article 20 of the Constitution of India. The Court dismissed the petition but granted him the liberty to approach the appropriate forum.
The petitioner again moved an application under Section 482 of CrPC. The court allowed his application this time and ordered his release.
After feeling that he deserve compensation for all the trouble he had gone through, he filed another petition. He submitted that he had served imprisonment for eight months more than his actual sentence, which was in violation of his fundamental right under Article 21 of the Constitution. Referring to the Bhola Kumar v. State of Chhattisgarh judgment by Supreme Court, the petitioner submitted that he deserves compensation.
To which, the State argued that the second application under Section 482 of CrPC filed by the petitioner is not maintainable since the matter was already decided in the first application. It was added that the order didn’t grant liberty to file another application under Section 482 CrPC with the same prayer. The State reiterated that the petitioner was liable to serve 4 more years of imprisonment as he had failed to pay the fine amount and therefore, the petition was liable to be dismissed.
Scrutinizing submissions of parties and documents on record, the bench questioned the maintainability of the second petition under Section 482 CrPC. The bench note that the relief granted to have the liberty to approach the right forum did not imply that he could move an application praying for the same relief that was earlier denied.
The bench observed, “Granting liberty to approach appropriate forum does not mean that the petitioner can again file a petition under Section 482 of Cr.P.C. praying for the same relief, which was rejected by this Court in an earlier round of litigation. It is seen from the record that the learned Single Judge has considered the aspect that while exercising the inherent powers the orders can be passed.”
Noting that the proceedings related to the second application which led to his release void ab initio, the bench stated, “the learned Single Judge was having no jurisdiction to entertain the second petition under Section 482 of Cr.P.C. for the same cause of action and for the same relief, which was already rejected vide order dated 10.03.2022 based upon the report submitted by the Superintendent, Central Jail, Narsinghpur. If the Court is not having any jurisdiction to entertain a second petition under Section 482 of Cr.P.C. the order itself is void ab initio and on the basis of such orders the petitioner could not have been released.”
The bench opined that the petitioner could have challenged the findings of the Court while dismissing his first application under Section 482 CrPC or the report submitted by the jail authorities demonstrating as to how the Petitioner was to serve four more years in prison in lieu of paying the fine amount.
The bench added, “In such circumstances, on the basis of an order which has been passed by the learned Single Judge without any jurisdiction to entertain the petition under Section 482 of Cr.P.C. as the same is void ab initio and in pursuance to the same the petitioner has been released by the learned trial court, no relief regarding compensation claimed by the petitioner can be granted to him. Therefore, the petition seeking the relief of compensation is dismissed because the petitioner is yet to undergo the remaining sentence of 4 years in lieu of default of fine amount.”
Therefore, the Court had ordered him to surrender before the authorities, failing which a warrant could be issued. Besides this, the Court has also allowed the petitioner to pay the fine amount within a month. After which, his remaining sentence would be considered to have been undergone by him.