New Delhi: Taking a tough stand on two custodial deaths, the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) on Wednesday directed Bihar and Punjab to pay compensation to the bereaved family members.

Holding prison authorities of Sitamadi Mandal jail in Bihar and Central jail of Punjab responsible in two such cases, the NHRC recommended for ex-gratia for the families of deceased inmates.

In the case of Sukhchain Singh, the NHRC has recommended payment of Rs 5 lakh as monetary relief to family members. Singh died while he was serving his sentence in Central Jail at Amritsar. The jail inmate was lodged in the prison since September 22, 2004.

The NHRC intervened in the matter on intimation from jail authorities and called for the requisite reports from Chief Secretary of Punjab. 

In response, the Director General of Police (Prison) informed the Commission that in July 2009 Singh was beaten up by jail Warden and subsequently died while undergoing treatment.

There have been a number of such cases in various jails of the country wherein the prison authorities have been under the scanner over the death of an inmate.

Similarly, in the case of Gopal Raut who died at the Sitamadi jail in Bihar, the NHRC has directed the state government to pay Rs 3 lakh as compensation to the kin.

The prison authorities in their report had stated that the reason of Raut’s death as health conditions. However, refusing to the state government and prison authorities claim, the Commission on the basis of the post-mortem and magisterial inquiry reports concluded that the contention of the Bihar government that there was no medical negligence in the prisoner's treatment in response to a show cause notice did not inspire confidence.

While the police report did not reveal any illness or injury in Raut's health screening record, the magisterial inquiry concluded that there was negligence on the part of the jail administration behind his death.

The Commission has asked for a compliance report along with proof of payment within six weeks.

(JPN/ Bureau)