Gauhati High Court seeks clarity from Assam government on compensation for death of detainees

Petitioners bring light to an alarming increase in deaths of detainees in 2020.

In a recent development the Gauhati High Court has directed the Assam government to clarify its stand on granting compensation to the families of inmates who have died in custody, particularly in the District Jail in Goalpara. The court’s decision came after a PIL was filed by Studio Nilima Collaborative Network for Research and Capacity Building back in 2020 which sought to bring attention to the alarming increase in deaths of people who had been declared foreigners.

The division bench, presided over by Chief Justice Sandeep Mehta and Justice Arun Dev Choudhury, sought to address the issue of compensation for the kin of inmates who passed away while in detention. The court highlighted that out of 31 cases of death in custody, only one had undergone an enquiry by a magistrate and just one case received compensation from the Inspector General (Prisons), Assam, to the bereaved family.

During the hearing on 20th July, 2023 Ms. R.S. Chowdhury, counsel for the petitioners, drew attention to the affidavit filed by the State authorities on12th May 2023 which shed light on the existing situation. It was disclosed that only one case of the 31 deaths had undergone an inquiry, and only one family had been granted compensation under Section 357A of the Criminal Procedure Code (CRPC).

Taking note of this information, the court directed Mr. B. Gogoi, the government counsel, to get instructions from the State on whether they intended to provide compensation to the families of all prisoners who died in custody or not. This compensation would be granted by considering them as victims under Section 357A of the CrPC.

Furthermore, the petitioners’ counsel pointed out a significant and concerning aspect of the data: 13 out of the 31 reported deaths occurred within the confines of Goalpara Jail. The court has instructed the Government counsel to seek clarification on this specific circumstance from the record.

The PIL filed by Studio Nilima Collaborative Network for Research and Capacity Building aims to address the rising number of deaths of inmates declared as foreign nationals, particularly within Goalpara District Jail. The Court had previously directed the Advocate General of Assam to provide information on whether magisterial enquiries under Section 176 of the CrPC had been conducted in cases involving prisoner deaths.

The matter has been listed next for further consideration on 25th of July.

Order can be read here.



Assam CM sparks outrage for remarks on ‘Miya’ Community, criticised for divisive language

Horrors of Citizenship Crisis seem endless to Harimohan Barman as CJP steps in to help

Assam Woman granted Indian Citizenship after CJP’s tireless advocacy

Resolute and Determined: CJP Assam makes headway through 2023



Related Articles