Orissa pays compensatioon for custodial death of a prisoner

New Delhi: Asian Centre for Human Rights (ACHR) today welcomed the payment of compensation of Rs 100,000 by the Orissa government to the family members of Takala alias Muktikanta Muduli, an undertrial prisoner who died in Balasore District jail of Orissa on 29 August 2007. The National Human Rights Commission informed the ACHR on 12 September 2009 that its order for payment of compensation to the deceased’s family has been complied with by the State government and payment of proof has been submitted.

On 4 September 2007, ACHR filed a complained alleging death of Muktikanta Muduli due to torture by the jail officials at District Jail, Balasore. A joint enquiry conducted by Sub Divisional Magistrate (SDM) and Additional Superintendent of Police, Balasore revealed that Muktikanta Muduli died after the jail warder Sarbeshwar Das tied him, who was suffering from alleged alcohol withdrawal, to the iron grill of the cell with a lungi (loin cloth) and kept him in standing position for over three hours for allegedly causing nuisance and discomfort to other prisoners. Muduli collapsed while still being tied to the iron grill and died on the spot. The SDM concluded that “the fatigue, pain and broken health due to drunkenness had led to the collapse of the prisoner”.

The state government of Orissa defended the action of the jail warder as “an act in good faith and without malice”. The NHRC found no merit in the plea taken by the State Government and asserted that “If the prisoner was showing withdrawal symptoms and causing nuisance and discomfort to the other prisoners, there could have been better and civilized ways to control him. It was utterly inhumane to tie his hands behind him and to keep him standing for more than three hours.”  The NHRC held that the State cannot escape its liability and directed to pay compensation of Rs 100,000.

“The Asian Centre for Human Rights welcomes the decision of the NHRC to reject the lame excuse of the state government of Orissa. However, the NHRC must develop cogent guidelines on the amount of compensation paid. The compensation of Rs 100000 is highly inadequate.” – stated Mr Suhas Chakma, Director of Asian Centre for Human Rights.


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