Rudal Shah v State of Bihar and Another

Bench: Chief Justice Y.V. Chandrachud, Justice Amarendra Nath Sen, Justice Rangnath Misra Petitioner: Rudal Shah

Respondent: the State of Bihar and Another

Citation: 1983 AIR 1086, 1983 SCR (3) 508


Can the petitioner pray before the court for compensation under Article 32 of the Indian Constitution?


  • The petitioner was detained illegally by the State Authorities in the jail even after he was acquitted.
  • The Court of Sessions, Muzzaffarpur, Bihar acquitted the petitioner but he was released from the jail after 14 years he was acquitted.
  • Then the petitioner filed a writ petition seeking his release and certain additional reliefs in the form of rehabilitation, reimbursement of expenses which he may incur for medical treatment, and compensation for the illegal incarceration.
  • To be noted that the petitioner was already released from custody before the appeal came before the court.


The court issued a show-cause notice to the State Government asking for an explanation as to why the petitioner was not released for over 14 years since his acquittal. The Jailor s affidavit stated that the petitioner was not released on the ground that he was of unsound mind but the affidavit does not disclose anything about the measures taken to cure him and does not come up with an explanation as to what took 14 years for setting him right. The court said that the petitioner cant is held liable for any crime under the Code of Criminal Procedure as insane

persons cant be held liable under the act and they have certain statutory rights regarding the procedure governing their trial.

The court questioned as to “Why was the Law Department so insensitive to justice ?

The court concluded that, if the petitioner was insane at any point in time, the insanity must have appeared as a consequence of his unlawful detention in jail. A sense of helplessness and frustration can lead to the mental instability of the petitioner.

The court said that the Government of Bihar could have shown a little more courtesy to this Court by filing an affidavit through a senior officer to explain the insensitivity. But using the jailor as prey the higher-up officials have saved themselves. The court states that “Perhaps, Hercules has to be found who will clean them by diverting two rivers through them, not the holy Ganga though.” The SC said that the HC of Patna should take a step to examine the jails of Bihar and see that there is no other case.

The court stated that they have to face the question as to how the grave injustice that is done with the petitioner can be resolved, and it shall be well within our powers under Article 32.

The court said that, indeed, Article 32 does not deal with cases related to compensation, they should be presented before a civil court. But the important question for our consideration is whether, in the exercise of its jurisdiction under article 32, this Court can pass an order for the payment of money if such an order is like compensation consequential upon the deprivation of a fundamental right.

The court said that there is no doubt about the fact that the petitioner will get compensation if he will file a suit before a civil court and ask for relief, but we are not sure how much time will it take for the petitioner to get relief because of lack of evidence. So, the court can not refuse to pass an order of compensation in favor of the petitioner as it will be like giving mere support to his fundamental right to liberty. Article 21 guarantees the right to life and liberty and it will be stripped of its importance if the power of this Court were limited to passing an order for release.


The court after taking into consideration the harm caused to the petitioner by the Government of Bihar, as an interim measure, ordered the State to pay the petitioner Rs. 30,000. The court held that the petitioner has the right to move to court for recovering damages caused by the state. The compensation granted by the court was palliative. So, the petitioner can make the ends meet.