Mumbai: The Maharashtra State Human Rights Commission has ordered the state government to pay Rs 7 lakh compensation to the widow of Pravin Mahajan for negligence of jail authorities in providing him treatment as a result of which susbstantial amount was spent by his family for his stay in a private hospital.

The Commission has also asked the state government to institute an inquiry against the concerned medical officers and take appropriate action.

Pravin was arrested for the murder of his brother and BJP leader Pramod Mahajan on April 22, 2006. He was convicted on December 18, 2007 and released on furlough in November 2009. A day before he was to surrender, Pravin collapsed and was admitted to hospital where he died on March 3, 2010.

His widow Sarangi had filed a complaint with the rights panel alleging that the police and jail authorities did not provide Pravin proper treatment despite being informed that he was suffering from blood pressure and diabetes and prayed for action against the errant officers.

Sarangi did not ask for compensation, although she orally stated that she had spent Rs 20 lakh on Praveen's treatment. However, the Commission, in its December 8 order, asked the state to pay compensation to her considering that she had spent substantial amount for his treatment in a private hospital.

"In the opinion of the Commission, the complainant is entitled to be compensated for medical expenses incurred by her," panel members Justices V G Munshi and Kshitij R Vyas, observed.

"In the absence of any bills for medical treatment on record it would not be proper for the Commission to recommend amount of compensation claimed for. However, the Commission cannot overlook the fact that the deceased remained in a private hospital for more than three months and therefore it is reasonable to infer that the complainant must have spent considerable amount on treatment of her husband", they noted.

The commission therefore asked the state to pay Rs 7 lakh within two months of the complainant producing medical bills of Praveen's treatment.

The Commission noted that during the course of time, many medical officers of jail hospital, Nashik, had come and gone and therefore it was difficult to pin point a particular medical officer who showed negligence while treating the deceased.

However, from July 17, 2008 till April 30, 2009, the concerned medical officer who had treated the deceased could be prima facie held responsible for providing routine care and free treatment to him, members of the Commission said.

"In the opinion of the Commission it is the right of the jail prisioners to have proper medical treatment and failure thereof will amount to breach of their human rights. Therefore concerned medical officer is liable to be dealt with for showing negligence, casual approach, in providing treatment to the deceased", they noted.

The Commission therefore asked the state government to initiate appropriate inquiry against the concerned medical officers and take appropriate action.

Sarangi alleged that her husband was not provided proper medicines for hypertension and diabetes when he was in Nasik jail. She also alleged that no medicines were given to her or her husband either by jail authorities or medical officer of the jail hospital when he was released on furlough.

"Having gone through the medical papers, frankly speaking, the Commission is unable to find any prescriptions of medicines on most of the case papers," the members noted.

The Commission observed that whenever the deceased was produced before the medical officer of the jail dispensary, instead of asking him to undergo pathology test to ascertain sugar in the blood, simply he was prescribed medical diet.

"There is nothing on record to show that the blood pressure or blood sugar of the deceased was any time ascertained", the Commission remarked.

(Agencies)