The Tamil Nadu State Human Rights Commission (SHRC) on Monday, October 31 directed the state government to pay a compensation of Rs 10 lakh over the death of P Ramkumar, accused in a sensational murder case who died allegedly of suicide in a prison by biting a live wire. Ramkumar was arrested for the murder of a techie, S Swathi, in June 2016 in broad daylight at the Nugambakkam railway station in Chennai, a crime that sent shock waves. He died allegedly of suicide in September that year.
After suspecting the statement of the prison authorities that Ramkumar died by suicide by biting a live wire at the Puzhal prison premises and holding that the state had miserably failed in its duty to protect a prisoner and thereby violated his human rights, Commission member D Jayachandran ordered the compensation, to be paid within a month to the victim's father Paramasivam, the complainant in this case.
To find out whether Ramkumar died allegedly by suicide by biting the live electric wire inside the prison, as claimed by the authorities concerned or whether it is a case of homicidal injury, as alleged by the father (complainant), the Commission ordered the constitution of an independent authority to hold a thorough investigation in this aspect. It also recommended to the state government to post adequate officials to ensure the safety and security of the prisoners in their custody.
Considering the oral and documentary evidence of the parties and the prison authorities, there arises a suspicion in the mind of this Commission as to whether the prisoner died by suicide by electrocution due to self-inflicted injuries or some other person electrocuted him.
The final report of an AIIMS doctor stated that Ramkumar died of asphyxia, the Commission pointed out. The doctor who conducted the post-mortem, in his report and also in his evidence, categorically stated that Ramkumar died due to electrocution. But he could not say that it was due to self-inflicted injuries. He, however, admitted that the "injury No.9" should not have been inflicted by the deceased Ramkumar himself, the Commission noted.
"Therefore, the points raised by the petitioner's counsel cannot be totally discarded," the Commission said. Admittedly the prisoner was in the care and custody of the state. Therefore, it was the bounden duty of the prison officials to ensure the safety and security of the inmates and ensure that he/they do not cause any harm to himself or anybody else.”
The Commission's Investigation Wing, in its report had stated that the prison authorities are not negligent and there is no violation in the death of Ramkumar, but it had failed to take into account the judgment of the Supreme Court, which had stated it is the duty of the prison authorities to ensure the safety and security of the prisoners. It is for the prison authorities to protect and promote the human rights of the prisoner.
"Therefore, this fact was not at all considered by the Investigation Wing of this Commission and their report is not satisfied and the same is not an acceptable one," the Commission said.
The report submitted by the Judicial Magistrate and also the final report of the Investigating Officer (IO) in the criminal case is not at all satisfactory and also not an acceptable one. The authorities, who had examined the witnesses and submitted their report, had not given any valid reason that Ramkumar died by suicide.
"Therefore, this Commission is of the considered opinion that an independent probe is very much essential to find out whether he committed suicide by pulling and biting into a live electric wire inside the prison, as claimed by the authorities. The state government is also responsible for the death of Ramkumar in the prison and hence it is liable to pay compensation to the father of the deceased," the Commission added and gave the direction.