Man’s body in mortuary for 18 days as BJP and Trinamool slug it out in court
The body of Madan Ghorui, a villager from Patashpur in East Midnapore district, is lying in a morgue since October 16 because of a legal battle between the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Trinamool Congress (TMC) government.
The BJP said Ghorui was a party supporter and alleged that he died because of torture in judicial custody. This triggered a legal battle at the Calcutta High Court and Ghorui’s body was sent back to the morgue hours after it was handed over to his family following post mortem examination. On Tuesday, the court ordered that a second post mortem examination be done by Thursday to ascertain the cause of death.
Ghorui was arrested on September 27 in connection with an alleged kidnapping of a minor girl in which one of his relatives was the accused. He died of illness at SSKM hospital in Kolkata on October 13, said the police. The body was handed over to Ghorui’s family on the morning of October 16 after a post mortem examination.
Lok Sabha MP Locket Chatterjee staged a demonstration near the party’s state headquarters on Central Avenue with the body kept in a hearse. She demanded an investigation by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).
Within hours, a legal battle started with the Calcutta High Court issuing back-to-back orders on separate petitions moved by the BJP and the state government. “We have not witnessed something like this in recent history,” said one of the public prosecutors who did not wish to be quoted.
After hearing a plea moved by the brother of the deceased, who demanded investigation into the alleged custodial death, the single bench of justice Rajasekhar Mantha on October 16 ordered a second post mortem examination. The government told the judge that Ghorui fell ill in judicial custody in East Midnapore district and was taken to a local hospital and later shifted to SSKM Hospital.
Challenging the single-bench ruling, the state government moved the division bench of justices Sanjib Banerjee and Arijit Banerjee on the evening of October 16. The division bench ordered a stay on the second post mortem examination and referred the case back to the single bench. It said the government should be given time to prepare its reply and in the meantime the body must be preserved.
During the next hearing on October 20, Swapan Ghorui, the brother of the deceased and the one who signed the petition, demanded an investigation and alleged foul play by the administration. The single-bench once again ordered a second post mortem examination. The government challenged this and moved the division bench. On Tuesday, the division bench upheld the order of the single-bench.
The single-judge bench had ruled that the second post mortem examination should be done at Kolkata’s R G Kar Hospital under the supervision of the department’s head and the entire process must be recorded on video.
The division bench on Tuesday said that two members from Ghorui‘s family can be present during the examination which has to be conducted by a committee of experts from R G Kar Hospital.
The two-judge bench also said that the post mortem examination report as well as all documents relating to Ghorui’s treatment at SSKM Hospital and Contai hospital, where he was admitted first, have to be submitted before the bench on November 10.
“The police could not find the accused and arrested my brother. We were not informed that he had fallen ill. All we want now is to take the body home and perform the last rites. My brother’s wife and son are going through a turmoil,” Swapan Ghorui said on Tuesday.
Education minister Partha Chatterjee alleged that the BJP is making an issue out of every death.
The BJP staged a demonstration on Central Avenue on Wednesday afternoon as well, alleging that the law and order situation in the state has collapsed.