Dalit man’s custodial death inquiry: NHRC pulls up Gujarat Police over ‘callous, irresponsible attitude’

A copy of an NHRC summon notice, in this case, has been accessed by The Indian Express which shows the rights body lashing out at the IG Prisons of Gujarat Police for his failure to submit the requisite report or appear before the commission back in September this year despite repeated notices.

The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has meted out harsh criticism for the Inspector General (IG) of Prisons in Gujarat Police and other police and administration officials, over their alleged “callous, irresponsible and non responsive attitude” over the inquiry pertaining to the custodial death of a 30-year-old Dalit man in Amreli Jail of Amreli district in Gujarat in 2017.

A copy of an NHRC summon notice, in this case, has been accessed by The Indian Express which shows the rights body lashing out at the IG Prisons of Gujarat Police for his failure to submit the requisite report or appear before the commission back in September this year despite repeated notices.

The matter pertains to the custodial death of 30-year-old Jignesh Sondarva, a resident of Dungar village in Amreli, who had died under suspicious circumstances at the Amreli Civil Hospital on July 15, 2017, after he was sent to Amreli sub-jail for three days, for allegedly breaking the liquor prohibition law. The family members of the deceased had alleged that Sondarva was allegedly assaulted by four fellow inmates.

“The Commission is pained at the callous, irresponsible and non-responsive attitude of the concerned authority. That Inspector General of Prisons, Prison Headquarters, Govt. of Gujarat, Gandhinagar and other authorities can not escape from filing the requisite reports and they are directed to furnish the requisite reports and documents in the death case of an inmate of the district jail Amreli. These includes (1) complete medical treatment record, (2) Inquest Report, (3) Magisterial Enquiry Report, (4) VC/CD of post –mortem report, (5) Action Taken report on the Magisterial Enquiry report, (6) final outcome/status of departmental action or criminal proceedings against the offenders and (7) Health Screening report of victim at the time of entry in Jail and (8) final cause of death of the victim. That the concerned authorities are bound to submit the action taken report regarding the allegations and grievances of the complainant under section 13 (2) of the Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993 and they are legally bound to furnish the required information within the meaning of section 176 and section 177 of the Indian Penal Code (45 of 1960) (sic),” read the NHRC summon notice.

The NHRC has stated that the IG Prisons of Gujarat Police had on two occasions ignored the notices issued by the rights body. “The Commission vides its proceedings dated 11.07.2019 issued conditional summons to the Inspector General of Prisons, Prison Headquarters, Govt. of Gujarat, Gandhinagar to file the requisite report on or before 06.09.2019 failing which he was directed to appear in person before the Commission along with the report on 13.09.2019. In pursuant to the directions, Inspector General of Prisons, Prison Headquarters, Govt. of Gujarat, Gandhinagar did not file the requisite report, nor did he appear before the Commission on 13.09.2019(sic),” read the NHRC notice

On July 12, 2017, Sondarva was picked up by a team of Dungar Police station in case of violation of Prohibition Act and he was presented before the Rajula Judicial Magistrate who denied bail and sent him to Amreli Sub jail under judicial custody. On July 15, 2017, the family members of Sondarva were called to Amreli Civil Hospital where the victim had allegedly died under suspicious circumstances. The post mortem report had stated that the victim’s head injury was the cause of death even as the family members alleged that his head was repeatedly bashed against the wall by fellow inmates while he was in jail. Later, an FIR was lodged against four inmates and they were arrested. Kantilal Parmar, a Dalit activist had approached the NHRC seeking for its intervention in the matter.

“We demand Rs 1 crore compensation for the victim’s family and government job for his younger brother,” said Parmar, speaking to The Indian Express. The NHRC has once again summoned the IG Prisons SK Gadhvi, Amreli Collector Aayush Oak and Amreli SP Nirlipt Rai to appear before the commission on November 26 at 11 am.

Speaking to The Indian Express, Amreli Collector Aayush Oak said, “The CJM Amreli has completed the magisterial inquiry and submitted the report around ten days ago, which I had forwarded. The Principal district judge has also informed the NHRC that the inquiry report has been submitted.”

Nirlipt Rai, SP Amreli spoke to The Indian Express stating, “The inquiry in this regard is conducted by the court and final report has already been submitted.”

SK Gadhvi, the IG prisons did not respond to repeated calls and messages, till the time of this report going to publication.

He was appointed as the IG Prisons around October 1, when the post had fallen vacant after IPS officer Mohan Jha, the former IG Prisons had retired. Current Ahmedabad city police commissioner Ashish Bhatia was given the additional charge of IG Prisons for a few months after Jha had retired.

Source: The Indian Express

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