A year-and-a-half after an undertrial prisoner was found hanging in his cell in Tihar Jail, the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has asked the superintendent of Jail No. 1 to showcause why the commission should not initiate action against him.
“Despite sufficient time and opportunity given, the requisite report, i.e., postmortem examination report, video cassette/CD of postmortem examination and opinion of medical board on final cause of death based on FSL reports have still not been received from the superintendent…
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The commission, thus, having taken note of the above, directs the aforesaid officer to showcause as to why appropriate action u/s 13 of the Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993, may not be invoked within six weeks. Let a copy of this ‘Showcause Notice’ also be sent to the DCP, west district, Delhi, for similar action,” the NHRC said in its letter to the complainant in the case on February 10.
Section 13 of the Protection of Human Rights Act gives the commission the power of civil court to summon and examine a witness on oath.
Lawyer Madan Mohan Priya had filed a complaint with the commission on the basis of a report in The Indian Express on August 11, 2015 about the alleged suicide of 32-year-old Sandeep Kumar, who was booked in a murder case in 2012.
Around 5.30 am on August 4, 2015, jail officials found Kumar hanging in his ward. In the note found by police, Kumar had alleged that jail officials harassed him and demanded money, forcing him to take the extreme step. A case of abetment to suicide was then registered at west Delhi’s Hari Nagar police station.
In the note, Kumar claimed that he was depressed as he had been implicated in a “false murder case”. “A Tihar official was harassing me for the last three months and demanding money. He was torturing me because I worked as a sewadar and always threatened to implicate me in a false case — of carrying cellphones or blades,” the note had alleged.
The commission also took note of the the magisterial inquiry into Kumar’s death on August 4, 2015, that was still pending before Dhirendra Rana, metropolitan magistrate, court No 2, Tis Hazari courts.
The NHRC also asked the Registrar (Law) of the commission to write a letter to the principal district judge, Tis Hazari Courts, Delhi, to get the inquest-cum-magisterial inquiry expedited in the custodial death case. A copy of the letter, the NHRC said, should also be forwarded to the Registrar General, Delhi High Court, for information.