Murder convict freed after 13 years in jail; state asked to pay ₹42 lakh
The High Court of Madhya Pradesh recently acquitted a man who was wrongly convicted for murder in 2009 and termed the police “outrightly partisan” in its investigation. The court also directed the state to pay a compensation of ₹42 lakh to the former medical student.
On Wednesday, May 4, a Bench of Justices Atul Sreedharan and Sunita Yadav passed the order and said the probe was “motivated with malice” and done with the purpose of falsely implicating an innocent person.
The case relates to Chandresh Marskole, who was arrested in 2008 for the murder of his girlfriend. At the time, he was a fourth-year medical student at a state government medical college in Bhopal.
He was found guilty by a trial court in Bhopal and sentenced to life imprisonment in July 2009. He appealed against his conviction in the High Court of Madhya Pradesh and the court has now set aside the conviction.
“The case reveals a sordid saga of manipulative and preconceived investigation followed by a malicious prosecution, where the police have investigated the case with the sole purpose of falsely implicating the Appellant and perhaps, deliberately protecting a prosecution witness who may have been the actual culprit,” the court said in its judgment.
“… where the investigation is motivated with malice and influence right from the very outset, and the same is done with the purpose of falsely implicating an innocent person, and where the record of the case itself reveals such malice, such a proceeding would surely be a malicious prosecution. The discharge of state functions with malicious intent or in a manner malafide, cannot clad the state with the armour of sovereign immunity,” it added.
The court said that the police was “outrightly partisan” in its investigation and it did not investigate the offence from the standpoint of the appellant at all.
Observing that the man had spent more than 4,740 days in prison, the court told the state to pay the compensation amount of ₹42 lakh within 90 days of the order.
“… the fact that the Appellant has spent more than thirteen years awaiting justice and, in the facts and circumstances unique to this case, we award the Appellant a compensation of Rs. 42,00,000/- (rupees forty two lakhs), which shall be paid by the State within ninety days from the date of this order. Thereafter, it shall attract an interest of 9% per annum till the date of payment.
“This does not preclude the Appellant in proceeding against the State for an action in tort for malicious prosecution. If he succeeds in the same, the amount of compensation paid to the Appellant in compliance of this order shall be adjusted accordingly,” the Bench said.
The court said, “… on account of this case, his entire life has been thrown into a disarray. He has spent over four thousand seven hundred and forty days in prison, first as an undertrial after being taken into custody on 20/09/08 (formal arrest was on 25/09/08) and thereafter as a convict.”
“Even by modest accounts, the Appellant would have earned at least rupees three lakhs per annum, whether he be in the service of the State or in private practice. Therefore, in the unique factual circumstances of this case, we hold that the Appellant is eligible for compensation on account of the violation of his fundamental right to life under Article 21 of the Constitution of India,” it said.