Muktsar custodial death: HC asks DGP to form SIT, awards Rs 7 lakh compensation

  • Surender Sharma, Hindustan Times, Chandigarh
  • Updated: Jul 06, 2016 11:22 IST

The Punjab and Haryana high court has directed the Punjab director general of police (DGP) to constitute a special investigation team (SIT) to probe the circumstances leading to the mysterious death of a jail inmate in Sri Muksar Sahib in 2013.

The high court bench of justice RK Jain also awarded Rs 7lakh compensation to the family of the victim ruling that the convict died in custody and preliminary investigations suggested that there was negligence on the part of the warder.

Convict Hardev Singh had died in February 2013 under mysterious circumstances reportedly due to poisoning. He was serving a sentence in a case of the Negotiable Instruments Act, 1881.

The order came on the 2015 petition of his son, Gurbaj Singh, who had sought investigation into the matter by an SIT and a compensation of Rs 15 lakh for the loss of life of his father.

An inquiry, conducted by then chief judicial magistrate, Sri Muktsar Sahib, Rakesh Sharma, had found that a pesticide, organophosphorus, was found in his body during postmortem. The death had occurred due to cardio-respiratory failure due the presence of the pesticide. The report had questioned as to how the pesticide entered the jail, where he fainted and whether it was a case of suicide or poisoning.

An FIR of abetment to suicide was registered in September 2013 against unidentified people. The initial inquiry report of the police had failed to ascertain the truth, following which a SIT, headed by a DS,P was constituted. The SIT stated that while working in a nursery due to carelessness and negligence of a warder and then superintendent jail, the convict consumed some poisonous substance and died, the court was told in October 2015.

But, later, a team comprising superintendent of police (headquarter) among others also made a field visit and it was found that there was no boundary wall over the area of nursery (in jail area) and was covered with safety wire only. It was recorded by the SP’s team that residents used to throw acid, fennel and pesticides near the nursery jail, from nearby fields which would scatter into the jail area, which Singh apparently consumed. Resultantly, the warder was indicted in the matter and a case of negligence by death was recommended against him, but the jail superintendent was given a clean chit. Keeping in view the contradictory reports and questions raised by the chief judicial magistrate, the high court bench

ordered the DGP to constitute a SIT of senior officials and has sought an action taken report in six months.

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