NHRC awards 5 lakhs compensation but censured for ordering re-investigation despite conclusive investigation already conducted by its own investigation wing

New Delhi: Asian Centre for Human Rights while welcoming the grant of Rs 5 lakh to the next kin of custodial death victim, Ram Kumar Pal of Hardoi district of Uttar Pradesh censured the NHRC for ordering re-investigation by the State's Crime Branch-Criminal Investigation Department despite conclusive investigation already conducted by the NHRC's own investigation wing.

“Under the Human Rights Protection Act, once an inquiry conducted by the NHRC is completed, it is considered final under the law and Section 18(a) (ii) of the Human Rights Protection Act empowers the NHRC ‘to initiate proceedings for prosecution’ upon completion of inquiry. Re-investigation implies that NHRC has doubts about the correctness of its investigation despite compelling evidence collected, makes the NHRC subservient to the State police and has the potential to lower the moral of the NHRC’s own investigation team.” – stated Mr Suhas Chama, Director of Asian Centre for Human Rights.

Ram Kumar Pal was brutally beaten by Sub Inspector Gyan Prakash Tiwari and Constable Shiv Chander Mishra on 7 October 2009 for refusing to pay bribe of twenty rupees. This finally resulted into his death. On 13 October 2009, Asian Centre for Human Rights filed a complaint with the NHRC which
is registered as No. 30962/24/36/09-10-AD.

The Uttar Pradesh government submitted an illegible Inquest Report which stated that the death was caused by shock as a result of ante-mortem injuries including an abraded contusion on the back of the left elbow joint; a contusion on the back just below the interior angle of the right scapula; and a contused swelling present on the right lower limb extending to the upper part of the right thigh, involving the inguinal area and reaching up to the ankle joint. The autopsy further found clotted blood and musculature, and that vessel and nerves were also damaged at several places.

As the Uttar Pradesh government refused to order magisterial inquiry, the NHRC sent its investigation team. The NHRC’s investigation found that there was “serious lapse” at every level of handling of the case by the authorities to the point that this “raises the suspicion that the entire district administration colluded to cover up the culpability of the police.” The NHRC’s investigation further found that (i) on the morning of 07 October 2009, when Ram Kumar Pal could not pay the bribe of Rs.20/- that had been demanded, he was ruthlessly beaten by Constable Mishra and SI Tiwari; (ii) the beating by the police led to Ram Kumar Pal’s death three days later; (iii) the treatment given by the doctors at the District Hospital, Hardoi, was inadequate as the doctors did not properly examine and treat Pal despite having severe injuries; (iv) the police investigations into the two FIRs  respectively FIR No. 1356/09 against the policemen and FIR No. 1356A/09 against unknown persons who attacked Semra Chowki police outpost were farcical and the FIRs were filed to willfully cover up the crimes of the accused policemen; (v) the supervisory officers, the Superintendent of Police, Hardoi and Circle Officer, Shri Rampal Singh Sengar, approved contradictory final reports in these FIRs without going into the facts and are culpable for their lapses in supervision and that (vi) despite the compelling evidence that Shri Ram Kumar Pal had died an unnatural death, the District administration did not order a Magisterial Enquiry.

On the basis of the findings of its own investigation team, the NHRC recently directed the state government of Uttar Pradesh to pay Rs 5 lakh compensation to the next kin of the victim and take appropriate departmental actions against concerned officials for dereliction of duty to cover up the death. However, with regard to prosecution of the culprits, it directed the State government to re-investigate criminal case No. 1356/09 pertaining to the death of Ram Kumar Pal by the Crime Branch-Criminal Investigation Department.

Asian Centre Human Rights recommended the NHRC to place its investigation report before the concerned trial court of Hardoi district for prosecution of the culprits.[Ends]

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