NHRC sets aside Kerala govt's 'no foul play' contention in prisoner's 'murder’ case

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New Delhi, Feb 22 (PTI) The NHRC on Monday said it has 'set aside' the contention of the government of Kerala that there was 'no foul play' in the case of suspected murder of an undertrial prisoner at a jail in Alappuzha two years ago.

The National Human Rights Commission said it has also asked the Kerala government to register a criminal case in the matter and pay Rs 5 lakh as relief to the next of kin of the deceased.

The commission, in a statement, said it had registered a case on the basis of an 'intimation from the jail superintendent regarding the death of 68-year-old undertrial prisoner on March 21, 2019'.

'The NHRC, setting aside the contention of the government of Kerala in a case of suspected murder of an undertrial prisoner at Special Sub Jail, Mavelikara, Alappuzha, has asked the state government to register a criminal case in the matter and pay Rs 5 lakh as relief to the next of kin of the deceased,' it said.

The commission has also asked the state government to hand over the investigations, through its chief secretary and DGP, to the CB-CID and submit a compliance report, the rights panel said.

The prisoner was lodged in the jail under various sections of the IPC, only on March 19, 2019, based on the complaint of a finance company, it said.

In response to the notice of the commission, it was informed that at the time of the entry to the jail, his health condition was “absolutely normal,' it added.

'However, he was allegedly found lying unconscious at 0530 am on March 21, 2019. He was taken to the district hospital, Mavelikara, where he was declared dead,' the statement said.

'The judicial inquiry 'cast suspicion' on the role of some of the co-inmates and the dubious collusion on the part of officials of the jail and a named officer of the rank of an inspector. The CCTV cameras installed in the jail were found not working during the relevant time, which could support the version of state authorities that there was no foul play,' it said.

In another case, the NHRC has accepted the action taken by the Uttar Pradesh government, in response to its suo motu notice, of 16 accused persons being arrested for their alleged involvement in the killing of journalist Shubham Tripathy in Unnao district in June 2020, the rights panel said in another statement.

Tripathy was working as a correspondent with a Hindi Daily, Kampu Mail, and reporting about the alleged illegal sand mining in the district. He had apprehended a threat to his life from the sand mafia, it said. PTI KND AQS AQS