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Orissa High Court Gives Clean-Chit To Jail Authorities In 2007 Kendrapara Custodial Death Case

Jyoti Prakash Dutta
20 April 2022 7:15 AM GMT
Orissa High Court Gives Clean-Chit To Jail Authorities In 2007 Kendrapara Custodial Death Case
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The Orissa High Court has given clean-chit to the Kendrapara sub-jail authorities in a custodial death case of 2007. It further denied to order compensation to the parents of the deceased as it did not find any foul play on part of the jail authorities. While dismissing the petition, a Division Bench of Chief Justice Dr. S. Muralidhar and Justice Radha Krishna...

The Orissa High Court has given clean-chit to the Kendrapara sub-jail authorities in a custodial death case of 2007. It further denied to order compensation to the parents of the deceased as it did not find any foul play on part of the jail authorities.

While dismissing the petition, a Division Bench of Chief Justice Dr. S. Muralidhar and Justice Radha Krishna Pattanaik observed,

"There is no material on the basis of which this Court can come to a conclusion that the death of late Susanta Pattnaik was either due to any ill-treatment by the jail officials or due to negligence of the jail officials in not affording any timely medical treatment for his condition."

According to the petitioners, their son, Late Susanta Pattnaik married on 30th January, 2005. As a result of some differences that arose between him and his wife, the latter left the matrimonial home on 5th October, 2005 to live with her parents. On 14th July 2007, a case was registered at the Kendrapara Police Station against him and his parents i.e. the petitioners herein as well as two of his sisters for the offences under Section 498A, IPC read with Section 34, IPC and Section 4 of the Dowry Prohibition Act.

In the said case, the petitioners along with the deceased and two of his sisters were arrested by the Inspector In-charge, Kendrapara from their residence at Burla on 15th July, 2007 and were forwarded to the Court of Sub-Divisional Judicial Magistrate (SDJM), Kendrapara on the next day. On 25th July 2007, the mother and the daughters were released on bail. The father was released on bail on 30th July, 2007. However, the bail application of Late Susanta Pattnaik was rejected and he was remanded to jail custody.

On 31st July 2007, a bail application under Section 439 CrPC. was filed before the Additional District and Sessions Judge, Kendrapara and listed for hearing on 7th August, 2007. Thereafter, it was adjourned to 17th August, 2007.

In the meantime, the elder brother of Late Susanta Pattnaik received a telephonic call on 13th August, 2007 at around 9.15 PM that he had died. The post-mortem of the deceased was conducted on 14th August, 2007. The petitioners submitted a representation on 12th October, 2007 to the Collector, Kendrapara and on 8th November, 2007 to the Odisha State Human Rights Commission (OHRC) for conducting an enquiry and taking action against the jail officials for being responsible for the custodial death of their son.

It was alleged that he was deliberately tortured while in jail custody at the instance of the complainant and her relatives, one of whom was a public prosecutor. They also alleged that the deceased was a diabetic, and because of lack of adequate medical treatment at the appropriate time, his health condition deteriorated; due to the negligence of the jail officials his death resulted.

The OHRC, by an order dated 14th August 2007, acting on a news item that appeared in the daily "Dharitri" took suo motu cognizance and asked the IG of Prisons to submit its report. Pursuant thereto, the IG submitted a report along with medical documents. The report indicated that the deceased was suffering from diabetes congenitally. He was treated in the jail hospital on 17th July 2007 and 9th & 10th August, 2007 with medicines and insulin.

On 13th August 2007, at around 12.30 PM, he complained of pain in his backbone and was shifted to the District Headquarters Hospital, Kendrapara at 1:15 PM as per the advice of the Jail Medical Officer. He was admitted there as an indoor patient at 1:45 PM. The treatment was continued and medicines were administered, but he died at 7:30 PM while undergoing treatment.

In terms of the post-mortem examination, the cause of death was opined as being due to cardiac failure because of coronary artery disease consistent with the advanced diabetic medical conditions for which the deceased was getting treatment. The final report that was submitted after completion of the investigation, suggested that it was a "mistake of fact".

Having examined all the above documents, the OHRC concluded that there were no materials to show that there was any foul play in the death of the deceased. By an order dated 3rd August, 2009 the OHRC closed the case.

This petition was filed by the present petitioners way back in 2011 claiming compensation for his death on the allegation that it was an unnatural custodial death as a result of the ill-treatment of the undertrial prisoner.

In reply to the present petition, the respondents had placed a record of medical treatment of the deceased including the inquest report and the post-mortem report. The proceedings of the OHRC have also been placed on record.

After carefully examining all the documents, the Court was unable to come to a different conclusion from that reached by the OHRC. It further held that there is no material on the basis of which the Court can come to a conclusion that the death of the deceased was either due to any ill-treatment by the jail officials or due to negligence of the jail officials in not affording any timely medical treatment for his condition.

Accordingly, the Court denied compensation to the petitioners.

Case Title: Smt. Bishnupriya Pattnaik & Anr. v. State of Orissa & Ors.

Case No.: W.P.(C) No. 33492 of 2011

Judgment Dated: 19 April 2022

Coram: Chief Justice Dr. S. Muralidhar and Justice Radha Krishna Pattanaik

Judgment Authored By: Chief Justice Dr. S. Muralidhar

Counsel for the Petitioners: Mr. P.K. Rath, Advocate

Counsel for the Respondents: Mr. J. Katikia, Additional Government Advocate

Citation: 2022 LiveLaw (Ori) 50

Click Here To Read/Download Judgment 


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