Take action on prison officials responsible for the women prisoner suicide: Memorandum to NHRC

Memorandum sent to the National Human Rights Commission on 13.01.2015 by G. Sugumaran, Secretary, Federation for People’s Rights, Puducherry:

One Ambika (36) w/o Ravi belonging to MGR Nagar Tsunami Quarters at Karaikal adopted a girl child as they had no children of their own. They got their adopted daughter married at the age of 17 to one Sivakumar (43). The girl lodged a complaint with the Karaikal Town police against the step mother for giving her in marriage being a minor. Consequently filing a case in Cr. No. 240/14 U/s 372, IPC r/w 34 IPC, 9 and 11 of Prohibition of Child Marriage Act and 6 of POSCO Act, the Karaikal Town Police arrested  Ambika, Valli and Kumar on 14.10.2014 and lodged them under Judicial Custody at Puducherry Central Prison at Kalapet.

The said Ambika applied for anticipatory bail in Puducherry Court twice but her petition got dismissed. As a result in a frustrated mood she committed suicide on 06.01.2015 at the women cell at the Prison by hanging herself by tying her sari to the window. The Kalapet Police has registered a case in Cr. No. 3/15 U/s 176 Cr.P.C. A Judicial enquiry has been conducted under Section 176 (1A) of Cr.P.C.

The Supreme Court in its several Judgments observed that the prisoners under Judicial Custody should not be lodged in prison for a longer period. Justice V.R. Krishna Iyer and Justice D.A. Desai, in their Judgment observed that It makes sense to assume that a man on bail has a better chance to prepare or present his case than one remanded in custody. And if public justice is to be promoted, mechanical detention should be demoted….. The principal rule to guide release on bail should be to secure the presence of the applicant who seeks to be liberated, to take judgement and serve sentence in the event of the court punishing him with imprisonment.’ (Supreme Court Judgment dated 31.01.1978 in Babu Singh and Others Vs. The State of U.P). For ignoring the directions of Apex Court, a life has been lost in Puducherry Prison.

After the Central Prison was shifted to Kalapet several custodial deaths were reported (2009 – 3, 2011 – 1, 2012 – 1, 2015 – 1). But no action was taken against any Prison officials who are responsible for the life of the Prisoners and so such deaths still continue.

Even in this incident there were 7 Women Prisoners in the cell. But due to lack of care and supervision at nights this incident took place. It is due to negligence of the Prison officials.

As the government is responsible for the custodial deaths, severe action should be taken and concerned Prison officials should be punished, a compensation of Rs. 5 lakhs should be paid to the family of the deceased and also a Prison Monitoring Committee comprising of Human Rights Activists should be constituted to monitor the Prisons in Puducherry.

So, we request the intervention of the National Human Rights Commission and direct the Puducherry Government to act immediately in this regard and render Justice.

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