calcutta high court

Calcutta High Court: In a petition seeking compensation and a reinvestigation following the acquittal of the petitioners in a criminal case, a single-judge bench comprising of Hiranmay Bhattacharyya,* J., held that the detention was lawful and not illegal, leading to the dismissal of the petitioners’ claims for compensation and reinvestigation.

Factual Matrix

In the instant matter, the petitioners sought the issuance of a writ of mandamus to compel the respondents to award compensation for their alleged wrongful detention in connection with a criminal case and to direct a reinvestigation of the same. The petitioners included the father-in-law (Petitioner 1), mother-in-law (Petitioner 2), and brother-in-law (Petitioner No. 3) of the respondent 5, daughter-in-law. The case originated from a written complaint filed by daughter-in-law, stating that she found her daughter dead on 11-02-2013, leading to the registration of a case under Section 302 of the Penal Code, 1860 (IPC).

Upon investigation, charges were filed against the petitioners, and the case was transferred to the Sessions Judge, who acquitted the petitioners on 12-12-2018. The petitioners alleged that they were wrongly implicated due to improper investigation and sought compensation for their illegal detention under Article 21 of the Constitution of India.

Parties’ Contentions

The petitioners contended that the investigation was not conducted fairly and impartially and request for a fresh investigation. The petitioners also contended that they should be compensated for being deprived of their fundamental right to life and liberty under Article 21 of the Constitution of India.

The State contended that the investigation was fair and impartial. It was argued that the petitioners, having been acquitted, had no basis for seeking compensation or a reinvestigation.

Court’s Decision

The Court observed that the petitioners themselves admitted their arrest during the investigation based on the daughter-in-law’s statement under Section 164 of the CrPC. The petitioners had previously sought discharge from the charges, but their request was rejected, and they filed a criminal revision, which was also dismissed by the Court.

The Court reviewed the acquittal by the Sessions Judge and found that the petitioners had already been acquitted through a lawful process, i.e., after considering the evidence and observing that there were doubts regarding their involvement in the offense. The Court observed that it is established that the detention of the petitioners was in accordance with the established legal procedure and was not illegal or unlawful.

The Court opined that while the Constitutional Courts have the power to order reinvestigations, such orders should be sparingly issued based on the case’s facts. The Court held that the petitioners failed to demonstrate the need for a fresh investigation and that the prosecution’s actions were not malicious. Since the detention was not unlawful, the Court ruled against awarding compensation to the petitioners.

The Court dismissed the writ petition but allowed the petitioners to pursue appropriate legal proceedings if they wished.

[Jamini Kanta Mondal v. State of W.B., 2023 SCC OnLine Cal 3472, order dated 09-10-2023]

*Judgment by Justice Hiranmay Bhattacharyya

Advocates who appeared in this case :

Mr. Soumen Kr. Dutta, Mr. Subhash Jana and Mr. Amal Krishna Samanta, Counsel for the Petitioners

Mr. Jayanta Samanta and Mr. Benazir Ahmed, Counsel for the Respondent/State

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