Custodial death: TN directed to pay Rs 10 lakh



Chennai: Accepting the findings of the State Human Rights Commission, Madurai Bench of Madras High Court has directed the Tamil Nadu government to pay Rs 10 lakh as compensation to the family of the man,who died in custody.

Giving the ruling on a petition filed jointly by the father, widow and two minor children of the deceased Ramamurthy, Justice K K Sasidharan, who rendered the judgement, here, said "the evidence collected by the SHRC is more than sufficient to arrive at a finding that he (Ramamurthy) was subjected to cruelty and it resulted in his death."

Holding that the material available clearly proved the role played by three policemen attached to Mannaparai police station in Tiruchirapalli district, the Judge said "as such the state being their employer is vicariously liable to pay the compensation."

He said the policemen had actively participated in torturing the deceased and had caused multiple injuries to him while he was in lock-up. "The untimely death of Ramamurthy deprived his wife and children of his company, care and affection.Therefore, the petitioners are entitled to claim the compensation, the Judge said.

Directing that the compensation be paid within eight weeks, the Judge said the father should receive Rs two lakh, the man's widow Rs three lakh and the balance of Rs five lakh be placed in a nationalised bank in the names of the children, to be claimed by them after they became majors.

The Judge said it would be open to the state government to recover the amount from the police personnel involved.As per evidence, the man was in the police station on Feb25, 2000 and had died after police torture while in custody,the judge said.

The petitioners had filed a writ petition, which was disposed of by the High Court in September 2003, with a direction to the SHRC to conduct a re-inquiry.

The commission had found that the man had died under suspicious circumstances and recommended a probe by the crime branch-CID of the state police, which had come to the conclusion that 'it was a case of suicide'. The post mortem report also said it was 'a clear case of suicide'.

The Judge, however, rejected the reports.

PTI