//Detained 12 can claim damages

Detained 12 can claim damages

Dhananjay Mahapatra

NEW DELHI: The 12 Indian businessmen who hit the headlines after they were detained by the Dutch authorities in Amsterdam for "suspicious behaviour" aboard a Northwest Airlines flight to Mumbai and then treated shoddily in clear violation of their human rights can claim compensation for the loss of their reputation under the Dutch Code of Criminal Procedure.

This is the view of senior legal experts here assisting the government on the issue. Loss of reputation, according to them, is justiceable under Article 89 of the Dutch Code of Criminal Procedure. The Article says: "If a suspect is eventually acquitted, he/she may submit a request to be compensated for damage suffered as a result of wrongful detention and legal cost".

Last year, the Netherlands government paid a compensation totalling 12.5 million euros for wrongful detention and legal costs, averaging 2,600 euros per claim. The average compensation for wrongful detention was the highest in 2002 at 5,000 euros per claim.

The experts — who don't wish to be identified as they are part of the legal team that helped the government in framing its protest with the Netherlands and is still advising it on the compensation claim — say the 12 Indians have a very good case. Not the fact that they were detained on suspicious behaviour but the treatment meted out to them thereafter.

The detained Indians were reportedly handcuffed, denied consular access, access to phones for communicating with their families and even drinking water. They were also confined in solitary cells: in short, treated like hard-core criminals on mere suspicion.