Justice K. S. Radhakrishnan and Justice Dipak Misra, In the case of Dr. Mehmood Nayyar Azam Vs. State of Chattisgarh and Ors. Decided on 03-08-2012

“In “Kaplan & Sadock’s Synopsis of Psychiatry”, while dealing with torture, the learned authors have stated that intentional physical and psychological torture of one human by another can have emotionally damaging effects comparable to, and possibly worse than, those seen with combat and other types of trauma. Any psychological torture inflicts immense mental pain. A mental suffering at any age in life can carry the brunt and may have nightmarish effect on the victim. The hurt develops a sense of insecurity, helplessness and his selfrespect gets gradually atrophied. We have referred to such aspects only to highlight that in the case at hand, the police authorities possibly have some kind of sadistic pleasure or to “please someone” meted the appellant with this kind of treatment. It is not to be forgotten that when dignity is lost, the breath of life gets into oblivion. In a society governed by rule of law where humanity has to be a laser beam, as our compassionate constitution has so emphasized, the police authorities cannot show the power or prowess to vivisect and dismember the same.”

“Term “harassment” In P. Ramanatha Aiyar’s Law Lexicon, Second Edition, the term “harass” has been defined, thus:- “Harass. “injure” and “injury” are words having numerous and comprehensive popular meanings, as well as having a legal import. A line may be drawn between these words and the word “harass” excluding the latter from being comprehended within the word “injure” or “injury”. The synonyms of “harass” are: To weary, tire, perplex, distress tease, vex, molest, trouble, disturb. They all have relation to mental annoyance, and a troubling of the spirit.” The term “harassment” in its connotative expanse includes torment and vexation. The term “torture” also engulfs the concept of torment. The word “torture” in its denotative concept includes mental and psychological harassment. The accused in custody can be put under tremendous psychological pressure by cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment.

…Treatment meted to an accused while he is in custody which causes humiliation and mental trauma corrodes the concept of human dignity. The majesty of law protects the dignity of a citizen in a society governed by law. It cannot be forgotten that the Welfare State is governed by rule of law which has paramountcy. It has been said by Edward Biggon “the laws of a nation form the most instructive portion of its history.” The Constitution as the organic law of the land has unfolded itself in manifold manner like a living organism in the various decisions of the court about the rights of a person under Article 21 of the Constitution of India. When citizenry rights are sometimes dashed against and pushed back by the members of City Halls, there has to be a rebound and when the rebound takes place, Article 21 of the Constitution springs up to action as a protector. That is why, an investigator to a crime is required to possess the qualities of patience and perseverance as has been stated in Nandini Sathpaty v. P. L. Dani, AIR 1978 SC 1025.


In D.K. Basu v. State of W.B. AIR 1997 SC 610 : (1997) 1 SCC 416 it has been held thus: - “10. “Torture” has not been defined in the Constitution or in other penal laws. “Torture” of a human being by another human being is essentially an instrument to impose the will of the “strong” over the “weak” by suffering. The word torture today has become synonymous with the darker side of human civilization. “Torture is a wound in the soul so painful that sometimes you can almost touch it, but it is also so intangible that there is no way to heal it. Torture is anguish squeezing in your chest, cold as ice and heavy as a stone, paralyzing as sleep and dark as the abyss. Torture is despair and fear and rage and hate. It is a desire to kill and destroy including yourself.” - Adriana P. Bartow, No violation of any one of the human rights has been the subject of so many Conventions and Declarations as “torture” - all aiming at total banning of it in all forms, but in spite of the commitments made to eliminate torture, the fact remains that torture is more widespread now than ever before. “Custodial torture” is a naked violation of human dignity and degradation which destroys, to a very large extent, the individual personality. It is a calculated assault on human dignity and whenever human dignity is wounded, civilization takes a step backward – flag of humanity must on each such occasion fly half-mast. In all custodial crimes what is of real concern is not only infliction of body pain but the mental agony which a person undergoes within the four walls of police station or lock-up. Whether it is physical assault or rape in police custody, the extent of trauma, a person experiences is beyond the purview of law.”

In the case of D.K. Basu , the concern shown by Supreme Court in Joginder Kumar v.State of U.P., (1994) 4 SCC 260 was taken note of. In Joginder Kumar’s case, Court voiced its concern regarding complaints of violation of human rights during and after arrest. It is apt to quote a passage from the same:- “The horizon of human rights is expanding. At the same time, the crime rate is also increasing. Of late, this Court has been receiving complaints about violations of human rights because of indiscriminate arrests. How are we to strike a balance between the two? A realistic approach should be made in this direction. The law of arrest is one of balancing individual rights, liberties and privileges, on the one hand, and individual duties, obligations and responsibilities on the other; of weighing and balancing the rights, liberties and privileges of the single individual and those of individuals collectively; of simply deciding what is wanted and where to put the weight and the emphasis; of deciding which comes first – the criminal or society, the law violator or the law abider…”

Two-Judge Bench decision in Sunil Gupta and others v. State of Madhya Pradesh and others, (1990) 3 SCC 119. The said case pertained to handcuffing where the accused while in judicial custody were being escorted to court from jail and bound in fetters. In that context, the Court stated that the escort party should record reasons for doing so in writing and intimate the court so that the court, considering the circumstances may either approve or disapprove the action of the escort party and issue necessary directions. The Court further observed that when the petitioners who had staged ‘Dharna’ for public cause and voluntarily submitted themselves for arrest and who had no tendency to escape, had been subjected to humiliation by being handcuffed, such act of the escort party is against all norms of decency and is in utter violation of the principle underlying Article 21 of the Constitution of India. The said act was condemned by this Court to be arbitrary and unreasonably humiliating towards the citizens of this country with the obvious motive of pleasing ‘someone’.

In Bhim Singh, MLA v. State of J & K, (1985) 4 SCC 677 Court expressed the view that the police officers should have greatest regard for personal liberty of citizens as they are the custodians of law and order and, hence, they should not flout the law by stooping to bizarre acts of lawlessness. It was observed that custodians of law and order should not become depredators of civil liberties, for their duty is to protect and not to abduct.

It needs no special emphasis to state that when an accused is in custody, his Fundamental Rights are not abrogated in toto. His dignity cannot be allowed to be comatosed. The right to life is enshrined in Article 21 of the Constitution and a fortiorari, it includes the right to live with human dignity and all that goes along with it. It has been so stated in Francis Coralie Mullin v. Administrator, Union Territory of Delhi and others, (1981) 1 SCC 608 and D.K. Basu

In Kharak Singh v. State of U. P., (1964) 1 SCR 332 court approved the observations of Field, J. in Munn v. Illinois, (1877) 94 US 113:- “By the term “life” as here [Article 21] used something more is meant than mere animal existence. The inhibition against its deprivation extends to all those limbs and faculties by which life is enjoyed.”

In Arvinder Singh Bagga v. State of U.P. and others, AIR 1995 SC 117 it has been opined that torture is not merely physical but may even consist of mental and psychological torture calculated to create fright to submit to the demands of the police.

In Smt. Kiran Bedi v. Committee of Inquiry and another, (1989) 1 SCC 494 Court reproduced an observation from the decision in D. F. Marion v. Davism, 55 ALR 171:- “The right to enjoyment of a private reputation, unassailed by malicious slander is of ancient origin, and is necessary to human society. A good reputation is an element of personal security, and is protected by the Constitution equally with the right to the enjoyment of life, liberty and property.”

In Board of Trustees of the Port of Bombay v. Dilipkumar Raghavendranath Nadkarni and others, (1983) 1 SCC 124 it has been ruled that right to reputation is a facet of right to life of a citizen under Article 21 of the Constitution.

In Smt. Selvi and others v. State of Karnataka, AIR 2010 SC 1974 while dealing with the involuntary administration of certain scientific techniques, namely, narcoanalysis, polygraph examination and the Brain Electrical Activation Profile test for the purpose of improving investigation efforts in criminal cases, a three-Judge Bench opined that the compulsory administration of the impugned techniques constitute ‘cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment’ in the context of Article 21. Thereafter, the Bench adverted to what is the popular perception of torture and proceeded to state as follows:- “The popular perceptions of terms such as ‘torture’ and ‘cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment’ are associated with gory images of blood-letting and broken bones. However, we must recognize that a forcible intrusion into a person’s mental processes is also an affront to human dignity and liberty, often with grave and long-lasting consequences. [A similar conclusion has been made in the following paper: Marcy Strauss, ‘Criminal Defence in the Age of Terrorism – Torture’, 48 New York Law School Law Review 201-274 (2003/2004)].” After so stating, the Bench in its conclusion recorded as follows:- “We have also elaborated how the compulsory administration of any of these techniques is an unjustified intrusion into the mental privacy of an individual. It would also amount to ‘cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment’ with regard to the language of evolving international human rights norms.”

Vishwanath S/o Sitaram Agrawal v. Sau. Sarla Vishwanath Agrawal, 2012 (6) SCALE 190 although in a different context, while dealing with the aspect of reputation, this Court has observed as follows:- “……..reputation which is not only the salt of life, but also the purest treasure and the most precious perfume of life. It is extremely delicate and a cherished value this side of the grave. It is a revenue generator for the present as well as for the posterity.”

In Delhi Judicial Services Association v. State of Gujarat, (1991) 4 SCC 406 while dealing with the role of police, Court condemned the excessive use of force by the police and observed as follows:- “The main objectives of police is to apprehend offenders, to investigate crimes and to prosecute them before the courts and also to prevent commission of crime and above all to ensure law and order to protect citizens’ life and property. The law enjoins the police to be scrupulously fair to the offender and the Magistracy is to ensure fair investigation and fair trial to an offender. The purpose and object of Magistracy and police are complementary to each other. It is unfortunate that these objectives have remained unfulfilled even after 40 years of our Constitution. Aberrations of police officers and police excesses in dealing with the law and order situation have been subject of adverse comments from this Court as well as from other courts but it has failed to have any corrective effect on it. The police has power to arrest a person even without obtaining a warrant of arrest from a court. The amplitude of this power casts an obligation on the police and it must bear in mind, as held by this Court that if a person is arrested for a crime, his constitutional and fundamental rights must not be violated.”

In D.K. Basu v. State of W.B. AIR 1997 SC 610 : (1997) 1 SCC 416 “There can be no gainsaying that freedom of an individual must yield to the security of the State. The right of preventive detention of individuals in the interest of security of the State in various situations prescribed under different statutes has been upheld by the Courts. The right to interrogate the detenus, culprits or arrestees in the interest of the nation, must take precedence over an individual’s right to personal liberty. …….… The action of the State, however, must be “right, just and fair”. Using any form of torture for extracting any kind of information would neither be ‘right nor just nor fair’ and, therefore, would be impermissible, being offensive to Article 21. Such a crime-suspect must be interrogated-indeed subjected to sustain and scientific interrogationdetermined in accordance with the provisions of law. He cannot, however, be tortured or subjected to third degree methods or eliminated with a view to elicit information, extract confession or derive knowledge about his accomplishes, weapons etc. His constitutional right cannot be abridged except in the manner permitted by law, though in the very nature of things there would be qualitative difference in the method of interrogation of such a person as compared to an ordinary criminal.”

Nilabati Behera v. State or Orissa, (1993) 2 SCC 746 wherein it has been held thus:- “A claim in public law for compensation for contravention of human rights and fundamental freedoms, the protection of which is guaranteed in the Constitution, is an acknowledged remedy for enforcement and protection of such rights, and such a claim based on strict liability made by resorting to a constitutional remedy provided for the enforcement of a fundamental right is ‘distinct from, and in addition to, the remedy in private law for damages for the tort’ resulting from the contravention of the fundamental right. The defence of sovereign immunity being inapplicable, and alien to the concept of guarantee of fundamental rights, there can be no question of such a defence being available in the constitutional remedy. It is this principle which justifies award of monetary compensation for contravention of fundamental rights guaranteed by the Constitution, when that is the only practicable mode of redress available for the contravention made by the State or its servants in the purported exercise of their powers, and enforcement of the fundamental right is claimed by resort to the remedy in public law under the Constitution by recourse to Articles 32 and 226 of the Constitution.” Dr. A.S. Anand J., (as his Lordship then was), in his concurring opinion, expressed that the relief of monetary compensation, as exemplary damages, in proceedings under Article 32 by the Supreme Court or under Article 226 by the High Courts for established infringement of the indefeasible right guaranteed under Article 21 is a remedy available in public law and is based on the strict liability for contravention of the guaranteed basic and indefeasible rights of the citizen. The purpose of public law is not only to civilize public power but also to assure the citizen that they live under a legal system which aims to protect their interests and preserve their rights. Therefore, when the court moulds the relief by granting ‘compensation’ in proceedings under Article 32 or 226 seeking enforcement or protection of fundamental rights, it does so under the public law by way of penalizing the wrongdoer and fixing the liability for the public wrong on the State which has failed in its public duty to protect the fundamental rights of the citizen. The payment of compensation in such cases is not to be understood, as it is generally understood in a civil action for damages under the private law but in the broader sense of providing relief by an order of making ‘monetary amends’ under the public law for the wrong done due to breach of public duty, by not protecting the fundamental rights of the citizen. The compensation is in the nature of ‘exemplary damages’ awarded against the wrongdoer for the breach of its public law duty and is independent of the rights available to the aggrieved party to claim compensation under the private law in an action based on tort, through a suit instituted in a court of competent jurisdiction or/and prosecute the offender under the penal law.

In Sube Singh v. State of Haryana, AIR 2006 SC 1117 a three-Judge Bench of the Apex Court, after referring to its earlier decisions, has opined as follows:- “It is thus now well settled that award of compensation against the State is an appropriate and effective remedy for redress of an established infringement of a fundamental right under Article 21, by a public servant. The quantum of compensation will, however, depend upon the facts and circumstances of each case. Award of such compensation (by way of public law remedy) will not come in the way of the aggrieved person claiming additional compensation in a civil court, in enforcement of the private law remedy in tort, nor come in the way of the criminal court ordering compensation under Section 357 of Code of Civil Procedure.”

Hardeep Singh v. State of Madhya Pradesh, (2012) 1 SCC 748. The appellant therein was engaged in running a coaching centre where students were given tuition to prepare for entrance test for different professional courses. On certain allegation, he was arrested and taken to police station where he was handcuffed by the police without there being any valid reason. A number of daily newspapers published the appellant’s photographs and on seeing his photograph in handcuffs, the appellant’s elder sister was so shocked that she expired. After a long and delayed trial, the appellant, Hardeep Singh, filed a writ petition before the High Court of Madhya Pradesh at Jabalpur that the prosecution purposefully caused delay in conclusion of the trial causing harm to his dignity and reputation. The learned single Judge, who dealt with the matter, did not find any ground to grant compensation. On an appeal being preferred, the Division Bench observed that an expeditious trial ending in acquittal could have restored the appellant’s personal dignity but the State instead of taking prompt steps to examine the prosecution witnesses delayed the trial for five long years. The Division Bench further held there was no warrant for putting the handcuffs on the appellant which adversely affected his dignity. Be it noted, the Division Bench granted compensation of Rs. 70,000/-. This Court, while dealing with the facet of compensation, held thus:- “Coming, however, to the issue of compensation, we find that in light of the findings arrived at by the Division Bench, the compensation of Rs. 70,000/- was too small and did not do justice to the sufferings and humiliation undergone by the appellant. In the facts and circumstances of the case, we feel that a sum of Rs. 2,00,00/- (Rupees Two Lakhs) would be an adequate compensation for the appellant and would meet the ends of justice. We, accordingly, direct the State of Madhya Pradesh to pay to the appellant the sum of Rs. 2,00,000/-(rupees Two Lakhs) as compensation. In case the sum of Rs.70,000/- as awarded by the High Court, has already been paid to the appellant, the State would naturally pay only the balance amount of Rs.1,30,000/- (Rupees One Lakh thirty thousand)”.