Law Commission Submits report on “wrongful Prosecution (Miscarriage of Justice) Legal Remedies”

Prelims level : ICCPR, Provisions against Wrongful Prosecution Mains level : Need for Compensation against Wrongful Prosecution.
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Why in News?

  • The Law Commission of India submitted its report titled ‘Wrongful Prosecution (Miscarriage of Justice): Legal Remedies’ to the Government of India.
  • The Delhi HC in its Order in the case of Babloo Chauhan expressed grave concern about the state of innocent persons being wrongfully prosecuted, incarcerated for crimes that they did not commit.
  • The Court highlighted the urgent need for a legislative framework for provided relief and rehabilitation to victims of wrongful prosecution, incarceration.

Global Scenario on Wrongful Prosecution:

  • Internationally, the issue is identified as ‘miscarriage of justice’ that takes place after a person has been wrongfully convicted but is later found to be factually innocent basis a new fact / proof coming to light.
  • The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (‘ICCPR’, ratified by India) also creates an obligation on the State parties to enact a law to compensate the victims of such miscarriage of justice.

Wrongful Prosecution:

  • The panel recommended ‘wrongful prosecution’ to be the standards of miscarriage of justice, as against ‘wrongful conviction’ and ‘wrongful incarceration’.
  • ‘Wrongful prosecution’ would include cases where the accused and not guilty of the offence, and the police and / or the prosecution engaged in some form of misconduct in investigating and / or prosecuting the person.
  • It would include both the cases where the person spent time in prison as well as where he did not; and cases where the accused was found not guilty by the trial court or where the accused was convicted by one or more courts but was ultimately found to be not guilty by the Higher Court.

Recommendations for Remedial Measures:

  • The Report gives an overview of the remedies available under the existing laws and discusses their inadequacies.
  • The panel recommends provision of relief to the victims of wrongful prosecution in terms of monetary and non-monetary compensation
  • This may include counseling, mental health services, vocational / employment skills development etc. within a statutory framework.
  • The Report enumerates the core principles of the recommended framework
    • Defining ‘wrongful prosecution’ i.e., cases in which claim for compensation can be filed,
    • Designation of a Special Court to decide these claims of compensation,
    • Nature of proceedings – timeline for deciding the claim, etc.,
    • Provisions for interim compensation in certain cases,
    • Removal of disqualification on account of wrongful prosecution / conviction etc.
  • A draft Bill, articulating the aforesaid, is annexed with the Report as the Code of Criminal Procedure (Amendment) Bill, 2018.
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