HC orders jail death damages

According to Dutta, since the nearest family members have already been identified, the state will have no problem in carrying out the court’s directive

By OUR LEGAL REPORTER in Calcutta
  • Published 12.10.18, 12:33 AM
  • Updated 15.10.18, 11:25 AM
  • a min read
  •  
Calcutta High Court File picture

Calcutta High Court on Thursday directed the Bengal government to pay an interim compensation of Rs 3 lakh each to the families of 41 prisoners who died unnatural deaths in jails between January 2012 and December 2015.

A division bench of acting Chief Justice Debasish Kargupta and Justice Shampa Sarkar gave six weeks for the payment and asked the state to disburse the remaining sum to the families after chalking out a scheme within three months.

In September last year, the Supreme Court had issued an order asking all high courts to take measures to ensure the state governments pay adequate compensation for unnatural deaths in jails.

“The state (Bengal) is directed to formulate its scheme regarding payment of the compensation within three months. In the meantime, the state is directed to pay within six weeks an interim compensation of Rs 3 lakh,” the order stated.

Asked by the judge, state advocate-general Kishore Dutta said the West Bengal State Legal Aid Services Authority (SALSA) had already identified the families of the 41 dead.

According to Dutta, since the nearest family members have already been identified, the state will have no problem in carrying out the court’s directive.

“The Supreme Court, while scanning the problems due to overcrowding in jails of the country, had asked all high courts to take steps so that the state governments pay adequate compensation. In November last year, I had moved a petition before Calcutta High Court and requested then Chief Justice Jyotirmay Bhattacharya to ask the Bengal government to carry out the Supreme Court ruling,” said advocate Tapas Bhanja, the petitioner, after Thursday’s order.

The issue regarding overcrowding in Bengal jails is still pending before the high court. The court has asked the government to chalk out a scheme so that prisoners languishing in jails for years can be released. The court had last year appointed Bhanja a special officer to visit jails in Bengal and file reports from time to time before the court on the condition of the prisoners.