TERMING the death of convict Manjula Shetye in Byculla jail as the result of an “ego clash” and not a case of administrative failure, Inspector General (Prisons) Rajvardhan Sinha recently submitted his report to the Prisons department, which has forwarded it to the state government for deciding if any action needs to be taken, sources said.
“This was more of a departmental inquiry to probe if any administrative failure had led to the murder. The initial findings and the subsequent chargesheet submitted by the Mumbai crime branch had pointed out that a fight over a piece of bread and eggs was the motive behind the murder. The departmental inquiry was to find if there was any systemic failure like problems in food supply or distribution that led to the incident. However, the inquiry points out that Shetye’s murder was not the result of systemic failure, but an ego clash between the arrested accused and the victim,” said an official from the Prisons department, who spoke on the condition
“The officer has recorded the statements of officials concerned with various departments of Prisons during the inquiry,” added the official.
Sinha was entrusted with the task of probing if Shetye’s death inside Byculla jail premises was the result of any system failure. The prisoners lodged inside the Byculla jail had complained about poor living conditions to senior officials who visited the jail following a riot after Shetye’s death on June 23.
Sources said the report concentrated on administrative lapses, if any, of the department and not on circumstances that led to the murder, as those were dealt by the Mumbai crime branch which probed the criminal aspect of the investigations.
When reached for a comment, Additional Director General of Police (Prisons), Bhupendra Upadhyay, confirmed that the report has been submitted to the state government.
“The report has been submitted in a sealed envelope to the Home department. It is now upon them to take any action based on its findings,” Upadhyay told The Indian Express.
Shetye, a 31-year-old Bhandup resident, was serving a life term for the murder of her sister-in-law. On June 23, she was allegedly assaulted by the jail staff after a brawl over distribution of eggs and bread in the jail after a complaint by other inmates to the jailor.
Six staffers including jailor Manisha Pokharkar and guards Bindu Naikode, Waseema Shaikh, Sheetal Shegaokar, Surekha Gudve and Aarti Shingane were suspended following the incident.
Subsequently, the crime branch probing the custodial death arrested the six jail staff. In September, the crime branch chargesheeted them for murder, destruction of evidence, criminal intimidation and criminal conspiracy with common intention under the Indian Penal Code (IPC).
Following the incident, DIG (Prisons) Swati Sathe was assigned the task of conducting a departmental inquiry. However, the inquiry was handed over to Sinha after a few WhatsApp posts put out by Sathe were purportedly empathetic to the six arrested jail staffers and sought financial assistance for them.
“Since it was matter pertaining to Byculla women’s prison, the inquiry was first entrusted to Sathe. However, after the WhatsApp row, a decision was taken to hand over the probe to Sinha,” added the official.
Last month, Konkan Divisional Commissioner Jagdish Patil submitted his report to the state Home department stating that Sathe’s action did not warrant any disciplinary action. He, however, added that Sathe should be “warned” by her department.