Nilabati Behera v Orissa

Protecting us from custodial violence & recognising a right to compensation

One of the '10 judgments that changed India' (Zia Mody).

The mother of a 22 year old man who died in police custody wrote a letter to the Supreme Court, which Justice Verma converted into a writ petition. Justice Verma argued that the state could not violate fundamental rights (including the right to life) and then claim 'sovereign immunity' in public law proceedings. He also argued the state will be liable for fundamental rights violations in custody. This set a precedent for compensation, and in the development of law around custodial violence.