Ningol Thokchom & ANR Vs. General Officer Commanding & Ors  INSC
733 (16 September 1997)
16TH DAY OF SEPTEMBER, 1997 Present:
the Chief Justice Hon'ble mr. justice S.P. Bharucha Sunil Jain and Vijay Hansaria,
Adv. for the appellants.
Adv. for the Respondents
following Judgement of the Court was delivered:
appellants are the mothers of Thokchom Lokendra Singh and kangujam Loken Singh
respectively. The said boys, each about 20 years old, along with a third, kangujam
Iboyaima Singh was released, but the said boys were not. On April 9,1981, the appellants filed habeas corpus
writ petitions before the Ghuhati High Court. The writ petitions were dismissed
by a learned Single Judge on the strength of the avernment of the respondent
that the said boys had left their custody. Appeals were filed before a Division
Bench of the High Court, which also, ultimately, came to be dismissed in view
of the respondent's statement.
leave to appeal against the orders of the Division Bench was granted. The
respondents reiterated in this Court the stand that the said boys had been
released after interrogation, but without having been first handed over to the
police. On April 24,
1990, this Court
directed the District Judge, Imphal (West), to conduct an inquiry into the
circumstances relating to the disappearance of the said boys. The District
Judge was directed to permit the concerned parties to adduce evidence, documentary
and oral, and to cross-examine the witness of the other side. He was also
directed to record the statement of the third boy.
Iboyaima Singh, who had been released.
District Judge submitted a detailed report on October 6,1990. His conclusion was that there was no cogent evidence to
show that the said boys had been released. He, therefore, found that they had
not yet been released from the custody of the first and second respondent.
case before us is squarely covered by the decision of this Court in Nilabati Behera
V. State of Orissa (1993) 2 SCC 746, the facts whereof were similar to those
us. This Court Held that there was an obligation upon it, conferred by Article
32 of the constitution, to forge the new tools necessary for doing complete
justice and enforcing the fundamental rights guaranteed by the Constitution.
This enabled it to award monetary compensation in appropriate cases where that
was the only mode of readers available.
remedy in public law was more readily available when invoked by the have-nots,
who where not possessed of the wherewithal for enforcement of their rights in
private law, but the exercise was to be tempered by judicial restraint to avoid
circumvention of private law remedies, where more appropriate. The Court
awarded compensation in the amount of Rs.1,50,000/- to the petitioner in that
case, and clarified the award thus:
We clarify that the award of this compensation, apart from the direction for
adjustment of the amount as indicated, will not effect any other liability of
the respondent or any other person following from the custodial death of
petitioner's son Suman Behera.
also expect that the State of Orissa would
take the necessary further action in this behalf, to ascertain and fix the responsibility
of the individual responsibility of the individuals responsible for the
custodial death of Suman Behera, and also take all available appropriate
actions against each of item, including their prosecution for the offence
committed thereby." After the receipt of the District Judge's report
mentioned hereinabove, this Court, on August 2,1991, directed the Union of
India to deposit in the names of each of the two appellants in the State Bank
of India, Imphal, the amount of Rs.1,25,000/- the interest whereon was to be
paid periodically to them. This has been done.
regard to the District Judge's finding aforestated, learned counsel for the
respondents does not now contend that the said boys has been released from
custody. All that remains to be done, therefore, is to determine, in terms of
the law laid down in Nilabati Behera's case, the quantum of compensation to be
paid to the two appellants. In our view, each of the two appellants should be
compensated in the sum of rs.1,25,000/-. The two amounts of Rs.1,25,000/-
already deposited with the State Bank of India, Imphal, by the Union of India
pursuant to the interim order of this Court dated August 2, 1991, shall,
accordingly, be paid over by the said Bank to the two appellants after they
have given to its manager satisfactory proof of their identify.
clarification quoted above in paragraph 25 of the nilabati Behera's case shall
be applicable to this case as if specifically set out herein.
appeals are followed accordingly.
respondents shall pay to each of the appellants the costs of her appeal,
quantified in the sum of Rs.7,500/-.