The state prisons department has come under fire from the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) as it directed the department to pay compensation to families of three who died in jail. A convict, G Subba Rao, lodged in Central Prison, Rajahmundry, reportedly committed suicide by slashing his left wrist with a steel glass provided to him for drinking water on June 14, 2006. In response to a show cause issued by the NHRC, the prisons department on July 14, 2011 had informed that the HIV positive convict was also suffering from ‘bilateral hydrocele.’ He was being provided treatment, the department told the commission. It also stated that there was a shortage of guards in the jail and that it was difficult to keep a close watch on prisoners to prevent such incidents.
“The state has the obligation to prevent a prisoner in its custody from doing any harm to himself. For this breach of duty, the state must bear the reparations,” the commission ruled recommending that the family of the deceased be paid a compensation of Rs one lakh by October 12, 2011. In another case, the commission ordered payment of a compensation of Rs 25,000 to the family of a remand prisoner, Kaki Seenu, who had died in the sub-jail in Kakinada on December 19, 2008. The prisoner had complained of bronchitis and weighed only 40 kg when he was shifted to the jail. He was not provided any treatment for his ailment. Though the ‘proforma for health screening of prisoner on admission to jail’ provides for blood test for hepatitis/STD including HIV, the required blood test was not carried out at the time of the prisoner’s admission in jail.
The commission also got the expert opinion of Dr Adarsh Kumar, associate professor, AIIMS, New Delhi in connection with the disease and its symptoms to come to the conclusion that the prisoner had died due to medical negligence. The family of Kaki Seen is to be paid the compensation by the prison’s department by October 6, 2011. The NHRC, which has taken the deaths of prisoners in jail seriously, found fault with the prisons department even in the case of the death of an under-trial Podium Bheemaiah on December 14, 2006. The family of the prisoner who had died at MGM Hospital, Warangal will be paid a compensation of Rs one lakh.
In response to the show cause notice issued to the state chief secretary on Bheemaiah’s death, the prisons department had furnished a reply, but the commission came to the conclusion that the prisoner died of medical negligence. “The commission is of the opinion that the deceased had died in judicial custody because of negligence on the part of the jail staff in providing proper medical treatment to the deceased,” the commission said. The compensation is to be paid to the family of Bheemaiah by October 8, 2010. The NHRC is not just going by the reports furnished by the prisons department and is relying on expert opinion. Even in Bheemaiah’s death, it went by the opinion of the department of forensic medicine, AIIMS, New Delhi, which went through the medical records of the deceased.
- NHRC serves notices to Gujarat cops on Dalit atrocity (Oct 5, 2011, DNA India)
- Woman commits suicide after suffering from police abuse in Murshidabad (Oct 4, 2011, Humanrights.asia)
- 3 Chennai policemen suspended over death in custody (Oct 3, 2011, The Hindu)
- Man allegedly dies in police custody in Srinagar, Judicial probe ordered (Sep 30, 2011, Twocircles.net)