PSA detainee’s death due to negligence: HC upholds Rs 5 lakh compensation to victim’s father

Dismisses govt’s appeal, directs it to pay the amount along with 9 % interest since Dec 2014
SRINAGAR: The J&K high court has upheld its single bench order directed government to pay Rs 5 lakh as compensation to the father of a youth who died due to the negligence by jail authorities in providing immediate treatment to him in 2012.
The youth, Sajad Ahmad Dar son of Ghulam Nabi Dar of Sangrampora Sopore, was booked under Public Safety Act. Dar, a contractual employee of Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL), was arrested in December 2011 and later lodged in sub-district jail in Kupwara.
On March 22, 2012 Sajad was shifted to SKIMS, Soura, some ten hours after he complained of pain in his head in jail. He, however, died only two hours after he was admitted to the hospital.
“The (detainee), after passing 10+2 had passed Diploma in Information Technology, was a young person who died in his young age. Thus the learned Single Judge was justified in ordering compensation of Rs. 5 lakhs to (his) father,” a division bench of Chief Justice N Paul Vasanthakumar and Justice Hasnain Massodi said while dismissing an appeal filed by the Mufti Mohammad Syeed led government against the single bench’s 3 December 2014 order.
“The amount ordered is not paid due to the pendency of this appeal and this Court having found that there is no merit in the appeal, the appellants (Principal Secretary Home Department, deputy commissioner Baramulla and others) are bound to pay 9% interest from (December 3) till the date of payment of compensation amount. The interest payable up to the date of payment shall be calculated along with Rs. 5 lakhs and paid to the (youth’s) father within four weeks from the date of receipt of this order,” the division bench said.
The state government had challenged the single bench’s order, contending that Sajad was suffering with several ailments prior to his detention and that no negligence can be attributed against the Jail authorities.
“The prison authority, who is under the State, is to act as ‘parens patriae’ as the movement of the (detainee) was restrained. If there is any laxity on the part of the prison authorities in not providing timely treatment and the negligence is established and the detainee dies for that reason, the State is bound to give compensation to the family of the detainee who died while in custody or detention,” the division bench added.
A magisterial inquiry ordered by the government after Sajad’s death had concluded that he died due to negligence of the jail authorities.
“The Jail authorities, even though they were advised by the concerned from time to time for hospitalization of (Sajad) did not take sufficient measures for his treatment resulting into his death,” the enquiry report reads, adding that none among the medical or paramedical staff members was present on duty on the date of incident, “which shows the negligence and carelessness of the jail authorities.”
“The jail authorities did not care for Sajad’s life. They preferred escort that too very late at 4.30 AM (22 March 2012) even though they were aware about his condition since 09.00 PM ( 21 March 2012). They waited for the whole night and preferred escort in the morning and left the jail at about 7.00 AM in the morning on 22 March 2012 delaying the treatment by about 10 hours,” the report said, adding, “if they would have taken the matter serious and shifted the deceased to hospital well in time, a precious life could have been saved,” the report added.
The single bench had ordered compensation on a petition filed by youth’s father. The petition was actually filed to seek quashment of PSA detention of Sajad. However, while the petition was pending in the court, Sajad died and subsequent he demanded punitive action against those responsible for his son’s death.
Advocate Mian Qayoom defended victim family while the government had filed the appeal through Additional Advocate General Asif Ahmad Bhat.