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Kewal Pati V. State Of U.P

Authored By- Meghana Vuttaradi

Keywords: Article 21, Prisoners right, CrPC

Name Of The Case: Kewal Pati V. State Of U.P

Citation: [1995(3) SCR 207]

Name Of The Court: Supreme Court of India

Name of the Parties:

Petitioner: Smt. Kewal Pati

Respondent: State of U.P.

Date Of Judgement: 6.4.1995

Bench: R.M.Sahai, S.B.Majumdar


Life and liberty are precious freedoms guaranteed under Article 21 of the Indian Constitution. The position of police officers has always been a matter of concern to all during the investigation. Under the 1973 Code of Criminal Procedure and other Acts, police officers are granted the massive, unbridled, and discretionary powers to search, seize, detain and investigate all criminal matters, including cognizable crimes. These discretionary powers conferred on police officers are almost absolute powers. The police most often misuse them for extraneous reasons such as bribery, gallantry awards, out-of-term promotions, etc., or with the ill-fated intention of raising the conviction rate in their service record.


In the case of Kewal Pati v. the State of UP, the Supreme Court of India ruled on matters relating to whether or not the death of a person in custody is entitled to a constitutional right to life. In this case, the court clarifies that taking away one's life is a breach of the right to life under Article 21 of the Indian Constitution, even if he is an inmate.

Background of the case

It is now a mandate that inmates, even if they are in detention, are still entitled to live under Article 21 of the Indian Constitution. The torture, attack, and death of prisoners in custody is a breach of the constitutional right provided in Article 21 of the Indian Constitution. Police departments ought to ensure the safety of their inmates in charge. And when they are locked in jail and awaiting imprisonment, the state must also secure the interests of the inmates.


1. Ramjit Upadhyaya (the deceased) was sentenced to life imprisonment in Varanasi Central Jail. He was charged under Section 302 of the IPC, in which death or life imprisonment is given if convicted for murder along with a fine.

2. In the same prison as Ramjit, Happu, another prisoner convicted of the same murder as Ramjit, was also sentenced.

3. The post of Nambardar was assigned to Ramjit, and his task was to maintain discipline among the prisoners in the jail.

4. But Happu could not tolerate Ramjit’s actions as a Nambardar, and thus tried to assassinate him, which he did successfully.

5. A case under Section 303 (punishment of death if a person serving life imprisonment under Section 302 further commits murder) was registered against Happu for the murder of Ramjit.

6. The deceased, reliant on him, has a family of wives and three children.

7. The wife of the deceased filed a petition against the government of Uttar Pradesh, seeking compensation on legal and humanitarian grounds.


1. Whether as an inmate, the deceased Ramjit Upadhyaya had the right to life?

2. Whether this right to life was unfairly stripped from Ramjit and whether his wife was entitled to compensation?

Arguments of petitioner

The petitioner, Kewal Pati (the wife of the dead man, Ramjit Upadhyaya) believed that her husband was murdered while Happu (the other prisoner arrested and charged with the same murder as Ramjit) was serving his sentence in jail. The complainant sought compensation, both on legal and humanitarian grounds, from the government of Uttar Pradesh for the death of her husband in prison.

Arguments of Respondent

The respondent argued that Ramjit Upadhyaya was killed by Happu while serving his sentence of life imprisonment in prison was accepted by Varanasi, deputy jailer of the Central Jail. Section 303 was registered for the killing committed against Happu when he was still serving life imprisonment under Section 302. In the U.P, there are no requirements. The Jail Manual notes that compensation must be paid to the family members of the deceased when a prisoner is dead. Hence, the Government of Uttar Pradesh didn't need to pay compensation to the petitioner.

Observations by the Court:

The fact that Ramjit Upadhyaya was charged under Section 302 and was a prisoner serving his life in jail does not deny him his constitutional right to life under Article 21 of the Constitution, nor does he forgive the officials responsible for protecting the deceased for disregarding their duties.

In cases such as A. K. Roy v. UOI [1]and Francis Coralie Mullin v. Administrator, Delhi Union Territory[2]. It has been claimed that the fundamental right to life remains with the prisoners until it is taken explicitly by law due to such circumstances. And then, it is violative of constitutional values to strip away one's right to life.

The very reality that when he completed his sentence in prison, the deceased lost his life makes it all the more correct to say that the respondents' absolute irresponsibility and neglect robbed the dead of his life as opposed to the statute.

The applicant and her three children are also deprived of the help and help they would have obtained from the deceased because of such negligence. The fact that, due to the inability of the respondent to protect the deceased, they are deprived of this assistance makes it all the more compulsory for them to reimburse the complainant.


Every person, whether or not he or she is a prisoner, is constitutionally guaranteed with the fundamental rights of the Right to Life under Article 21. This right was also granted to Ramjit Upadhyaya. It was due to the absolute incompetence of the respondent authorities that it was not possible to protect the life of the deceased and deprive him of his right to life. Hence, the Government of Uttar Pradesh must compensate the petitioner for the loss that she and her family have suffered. It was directed to the State of U.P. to deposit a sum of 1,00,000 rupees within three months from the date of judgment with the Registrar of the Court.

From this sum of 1, 00,000 rupees, a sum of 50000 rupees would be kept in the form of a fixed deposit in any nationalized bank. The interest on this fixed deposit would go to the petitioner and her three children. Once the children turn major, this amount in the fixed deposit will be paid to the petitioner on her desire. If the petitioner is already deceased, it will be divided among the children who would survive in equal shares.

The rest 50000 rupees from the entire sum of 1, 00,000 rupees will be directly paid to the petitioner after identifying her identity with surety.

Concepts Highlighted

Right to life under Article 21

As stated in Article 21, the right to life is comprehensive and includes the right to shelter, food, decent living conditions, security from custodial abuse, and much more. Prisoners should not cease to be human beings. In many ways, the Supreme Court has affirmed this and has also acknowledged prisoners' rights, so that they should not suffer and they can be provided with a better rehabilitative atmosphere for their development and being a better human being over the prison term. It is the duty of the state and central governments not only to provide infrastructure, social power and humane conditions for the rehabilitation and legal survival of prisoners, but also to provide information on the rights of prisoners at the right time, to prevent possible, likely and unnecessary exploitation of prisoners by the powerful inside the prisons.

It was argued in the famous case of Charka Singh v. State of U.P[3] that the right to life implies living in a much better way than only being like an animal. The value of the Right to Life as guaranteed by Article 21 was also reiterated in the other famous case of Charles Sobraj v. The Superintendent, Central Jail, Tihar[4], and it was also stressed that even prisoners should not forfeit this right only because they have been convicted.

In the present case, the deceased was not only deprived of his right to life, but also of the plaintiff, who, with her husband, ceased to have a peaceful and meaningful life. The fact that the government had refused to provide her with compensation really put the fundamental rights of the complainant at risk. The judgment given in this case establishes that even for inmates, the right to life cannot be taken away. It also made it clear that the Government was also hampering this right of the petitioner by not providing compensation.

[1] AIR 1982 S.C. 710 [2] AIR 1981 SC 746 [3] AIR 1963 S.C. 1295. [4] AIR 1978 S.C. 746.