The High Court of Kerala observed that the “State moved to nab Maoists like a hunter vying for prey. This is nothing but disguised aberration of law in the cloth of uniform and the protector has become the aggressor,” it criticised.
The court also noted that the activities of the Maoists had to be curbed if it “affronts to the law of the land.”
In his landmark judgment, which allowed compensation to a person who was taken into custody on suspicion of being a Maoist, Justice A. Muhamed Mustaque observed that the “freedom of thought and liberty of conscience is a natural right and cannot be surrendered by any human being and that freedom is ingrained in human mind and soul. However, those freedom become unlawful when it confronts with physical law of the State.”
Onus on institution
The State “instrumentalities and machineries function through individuals. Any institution manned by human beings is bound to commit error. However, it is institution’s responsibility to own up such error. It is unfortunate that a responsible government have shrugged to call it as a mistake on their part and render apology,” the court criticised.
The court held that the State was bound to compensate the petitioner, who was taken into custody on suspicion that he was a Maoist.
The “action of the police resulted in deprivation is only on account of the lack of sensitiveness and the inability of the law agency to regiment their power in time with declaration of law by the Supreme Court while combating any criminal activities of Maoists,” it said.
Upholding the petitioner’s claim for compensation, the court held that he “would have been entitled for a higher amount of compensation considering the trauma and mental agonies suffered by him.” However, the judgment stated that the individual police officers “need not be mulcted with any liability. Their action stems from failure to create a balance between executive duty to secure liberty and of the law enforcement agencies to take action in crime.”
The “State machinery failed in the action and not the individual officers. Action of the individual officers is the reflection of approach of the machinery itself. When individual liberty is deprived on action of any State action, it’s the State and not the officer who carried out the action is liable, the judgment said.