PUCL Bulletin, Oct. 2000
conditions in Sakchi jail
General Secretary writes to the Chief of NHRC
on Sakchi jail:
Press Release: Death in police custody in Sakchi jail, Sept 2000
Torture in Sakchi jail, Sept 2000
Press release on conditions in Sakchi jail, July 2000
15th September, 2000
(Justice) JS Verma, Rtd.,
Sardar Patel Bhawan
Delhi 110 001
Dear Justice Verma,
The Jamshedpur branch of the Bihar State PUCL has sent us reports on the conditions prevailing in the Sakchi jail in Jamshedpur. I am sending this report to you based on the information received from Jamshedpur. Some documents procured by the Jamshedpur branch are also enclosed.
It was reported that on July 25 2000 one Krishna Pada Seal, his wife and his son were sent to the Sakchi Jail. Krishna Pada Seal died on August 4 in the Jail. The Jamshedpur PUCL received reports of torture an extortion that was let loose on the Seal family. It was reported that the Rangdars and other bullies extort money from all the new inmates. The Seal family was also subjected to this type of torture and extortion. A PUCL team tried to meet the Jail Superintendent Shri Chowdhary. Since did not have time the PUCL send a complaint to the DC, East Singhbhum on July 28.
On August 4 the Seal family got bail. When the relatives of the family went to the Jail to bring them in a car, Krishna Pada Seal was finding it difficult to walk. He collapsed and died at the jail gate. The constables, etc, on duty at the gate pushed the body into the car and forced the relatives to live. They went straight to the Telco Hospital where Krishna Pada Seal was declared brought dead. (Appendix1: Jamshedpur PUCL letter to DC East Singhbhum).
The post-mortem report of the autopsy on Krishna Pada Seal declared that he died due to serious Asthma, from which he was suffering.
The PUCL and his relatives had been drawing the attention of the Jail authorities towards the serious condition of his health. This did not have any effect on them and he not only did not receive any medical aid he was subjected to inhuman torture.
He was denied food; he was made to sleep in his underwear in the toilet area. The Jail Rangdars constantly threatened him and demanded RS. 2500/- saying that tills them his torture will continue. In spite of reports to the Jail Superintendent and to the DC on July 27 and 28, no action was taken. He was put in the Jail hospital but was not given any medicines. The Jail doctor wanted his relatives to meet him at his residence so that he could refer him to an outside hospital. When he collapsed at the gate of the Jail and died the authorities wanted to push out the body and the relatives so that they could say that he died outside the gate.
The Jamshedpur PUCL has also procured the copy of a letter that was written by the younger Seal to his sister asking her to arrange for Rs. 2400/- and a copy of a letter from Mrs. Seal to her daughter asking for money.
The case was widely reported in the press in Jamshedpur in the first week of August Press Reports have mentioned other cases of custodial death also.
The Jamshedpur PUCL reports that the Sakchi Jail Authorities violate most of the norms of the Jail Manuals and the directives of the Supreme Court and National Human Rights Commission. As per the directives, the Jail doctor should check every incoming prisoner before admitting him or her in the Jail. A record of the physical condition should be maintained along with a medical card. This practice is totally ignored by the Jail authority. Further, the Jail authority allowed running canteens inside the Jail where everything is available against payment. What happens to the money that comes as a Government grant for food, medicine, etc., for the Jail inmates? The Jail Rangdars are selected and deputed by the Jail authority to extort money from the prisoners but this money the relatives of prisoners give it through the hand of Jail staff only. Also every day hundred of visitors come to their relatives in the Jail and to pass on the food materials for them. The Jail staff collects huge amount per day by allowing visitors to meet their relatives and but also allowing foods and other materials to migrate inside the Jail. It is a known fact that all types of Narcotics are also freely available insides the Jail.
It is pathetic that Jail inmates are forced to live in inhuman condition and whenever human right activists raise the issue to improve the conditions of the Jail, they are either ignored or threatened.
The Jamshedpur PUCL has also sent us two detailed reports on the conditions in Sakchi Jail, which are as follows: -
(a) On receipt of some serious complaints from the prisoners, a team of PUCL Jamshedpur visited Sakchi Jail on 10.5.2000. The team met the Jail Supdt. Shri Ashok Kumar Chowdhary. It also met Dr. Sanjay Kumar Subodh and other staff of the Jail. The following points were discussed to improve the condition of the prisoners and to bring about reforms:
(1) There are some notorious criminals lodged in the Jail who regularly terrorise new comers. These musclemen appear to rule the Jail wards. They resort to physical torture and extort money from other prisoners. Such a thing cannot continue without the knowledge & support of Jail authority. Mr. Chowdhary accepted this and intimated that he had already taken measures to stop these happenings. He has already lodged an FIR and is arranging to isolate these culprits. Mr. Chowdhary however brought to the knowledge of the team that he does not have required staff and force due to which controlling of the miscreants inside the Jail is becoming difficult. PUCL team however differed with his contention and requested him to take suitable measurers to stop such "Rangadri activities" of the Jail mafia.
(2) There are a total 786 of prisoners languishing in the Sakchi Jail. Out of these 786 prisoners, only 55 are convicted and the rest are under trial prisoners including 23 women. The Jail was meant to accommodate about 200 prisoners. Therefore, due to space constraint, inhuman overcrowding prevails in the jail. However, of late, the Government has started constructing new blocks as part of expansion programme. It has been assured that the construction will be completed by September 2000 and hopefully then such tortures of the inmates of the Jail will be reduced. Further, it was decided to take up the cases of release of prisoners lodged in the Jail under petty cases as per the directives of the Supreme Court. At the same time arrangements should be made to transfer the convicted prisoners to other central Jails.
(3). It has come to the notice of the PUCL that there are at present 30 TB patients kept in an isolated ward. This figure is pathetically high and many of them have been suffering for quite a long time. TB is no more an incurable disease. Therefore these patients must get all care and medical treatment. It has been informed that Sakchi Jail will have an X-ray machine installed soon. It is regretted that there has been no other medical staff in Jail hospital as such Dr. Sanjay Kumar Subodh is to manage everything single handedly. It is unfortunate that Shri Raghu Nandan, Dresser, is working as a temporary employee and is not getting payment since 1992.
(4). The Jail Superintendent has informed the team that due to paucity of fund he could not do much towards improvement but he expects that this State of affairs will be over soon. He pressed the Rotary Club to take initiative in a moral reform programme.
(5). It has been decided to work out a programme for recreational and educational activities for the prisoners on lines recently introduced in Tihar Jail Delhi.
(6). It has also come to the notice of the PUCL team that the police party escorting the prisoners to Sakchi Court ill-treats them in a manner as if cattle were being taken to a slaughterhouse for butchering. Every prisoner is forced to pay to fulfil the demands of the escorting party. This matter will be taken up with appropriate authority with a view to stopping such inhuman and barbarous practices. MK Dutta, VP., PUCL, Jamshedpur, 12 May 2000.
II (b) The medical council of India has recently informed the five Government medical Colleges of Bihar to improve the teaching condition or else these colleges would be de-recognised. The colleges are - (i) RMCE Ranchi, (ii) MGM Jamshedpur, (iii) SKM Muzaffarpur, (iv) JLN Bhagalpur, and (v) A N Medical Gaya. The Council wants these colleges to take steps to fulfil all the conditions laid down by it. These are (i) College Hospital should have minimum 500 beds; (ii) There should be intensive care unit and blood bank. Further, there is shortage of staff in almost all departments. In MGM Jamshedpur there are about 58 vacancies. The council has asked to fill up these vacancies immediately but the Government is not taking any action on this. As the condition of MGM Jamshedpur is worse, the students fear that soon this college will be de-recognised and as a result their career would be spoiled.
To draw the attention of the Government and the local administration, the students resorted to Dharna at the Gate of the MGM College. On the first day, the students were so agitated that they locked the OPD and the main gate of the hospital causing serious hardship to the patients. Normal functioning of the Hospital remained disturbed. Post mortem could not be performed. Patient could not be treated in the OPD or in the wards.
On 23.8.2000, the police administration forcibly picked up the protesting students, both boys & Girls, and loaded them in a bus. They were taken to the Sakchi Jail. Press photographers, reporters of Print Media, and Videographers of Electronic Media followed the bus and allegedly tried to take photographs of the students being forcibly taken to the Jail. Here Jail police started misbehaving with the press people. The cameras were snatched. A Video Camera was allegedly thrown away on the road and was damaged. Jail police beat some pressmen. A copy of the FIR is enclosed.
It is to be noted that the daughter of the Chief Minister Bihar also studying in the MGM College. Administration arranged to segregate her on the day and therefore she was not there when the arrests took place. The students after giving assurances to discontinue their agitation were released from the Jail same day after 2/3 hours.
Minister for Jail, Government of Bihar, visited Sakchi Jail. Taking of photographs inside the jail was allowed! The Minister reportedly admitted that the condition of the Jail was horrible. A press report with photograph is enclosed. The Minister suspended two Jail police officers, Shri Chaturvedi & Shri Ram Vilas Pandey.
In the meantime Sakchi Police called the persons from the Jail as named in the FIR and released them on bail from the P.S. A case under Section 341/323/427/504/34 IPC against the named FIR persons is under investigation by the Sakchi Police.
The above note makes it clear that the conditions in Sakchi jail invite some investigation. We urge the Commission to depute a high-powered team to visit the jail and investigate the matter thoroughly. The Jamshedpur PUCL will extend its full cooperation.
Sd. Y P Chhibbar,
1 Letter from the younger Seal to his sister
2 Letter from Mrs. Seal to her daughter
3 Copy of the FIR lodged by a Reporter
4 Press reports with photographs
Copy of the letter:
The Deputy Commissioner,
Subject: Torture of the New Prisoners to Extort Money
We are receiving
serious complaints from the inmates of the Sakchi Jail. These are as under:
1) That it has become a practice in Sakchi Jail that whenever any under trial prisoners is taken in the custody, he is tortured.
2) That there are some convicted prisoners who have been put "in charge" of the wards by the jail authority. They are known as "Dabang" and Musclemen. These so called "in charges" in connivance with the jail Authority, start torturing the new comers. These new comers do not get place to sleep, food to eat, and toilet facilities. These musclemen threaten and terrorise them to bring money.
3) That depending upon the 'status of the prisoners the amount to be paid varies. Id any complaint is made with the 'Jail Sipahis' or the authority, the torture further increases and thus the new inmates become totally helpless and start pressing their relatives who over come to see them to give money to full fill the demand of the Jail Rangdars. There is no way the money can be given to them directly. Money is always given only through the gate attendance of the jail. This money is shared.
4) That on receipt of such complaints we met the jail Superintendent and the jailer in the month of April 2000 and requested him to take action to stop such illegal and inhuman practices in the jail. He assured then to take action on it.
5) That however, thereafter we received the complains of similar nature and the latest is the case of Krishna Pada Seal, Smt. Shilpi Seal (wife) and Raja Seal (son). Krishna Pada Seal and Shilpi are well known as singers and music teachers. Krishna Pada is Asthma patient.
6) That the 'seal' family was taken to Sakchi Jail Custody on 25.07.2000. From that day the Jail Rangdars started "operation" on them. They were so tortured and terrorized that they have asked their well wishers to bring money (Rs. 2500/-) by selling their, ornaments. Letters enclosed.
7) That on receipt of the report of torture on these new inmates, we in a delegation went to the Sakchi Jail where we found the Jail Superintendent quite reluctant to talk us. In front of the Jail gate he only asked the Jailors ' ye dekho to kyaa hai' and then went away.
8) That the Jailor however took some measures to see that the 'Seal' family is not harassed.
9) That the environment of Sakchi Jail has become so vicious that this can not be an isolated case to be tackled. This has become most inhuman general practice.
10) That we request you to take immediate step, to put all the Rangdari of the jail in separate cell. Also action should be taken after enquiry against the jail staff that through these Rangdars collect money from the under trial prisoners.
Krishnapado was suffering from Asthma. This was brought to the knowledge of the Jail Authority on the first day, i.e., on 25.07.2000. But no treatment was provided to him. As per the directives of NHRC every new comers in the Jail should be medically checked and record of injuries and illnesses should be maintained. But this Jail Authorities here do not care to follow such practices.
As the medical treatment was not rendered to Krishnapado and the 'Jail Rangdars" instead continued with their "operation" of torturing Krishnapado, PUCL referred the matter to the Dy. Commissioner (East Singhbhum). On this however Krishnapado was transferred to Jail Hospital but by that time his condition deteriorated. At this stage the Jail doctor should have referred the case to Govt. Hospital or Tata Main Hospital. But the corrupt practice is that whoever pays handsomely to Jail doctors gets referred to outside Hospitals. There are some under trial prisoners, healthy but occupying the beds in the Jail Hospital. There are some who got themselves referred to Govt. Hospital outside. One accused of murder case, but a moneyed & influential man, is spending his time as under trial prisoner at AIR CONDITIONED CABIN OF TISCO MAIN HOSPITAL. Jail doctor all through was asking Krishnapado and his son to ask their relatives to meet him at his residence. He assured that once the relatives meet him (meaning pay him), he will give a certificate which can be used to facilities. Also he may refer Krishnapado to outside Govt. Hospital (if the demand is fulfilled).
The horrible and inhuman part of the case is the manner in which the dead body of Krishnapado was pushed in the Car on his release on Bail on 04.08.2000. The Jail staff forced the relatives (wife, son & 2/3 friends) to take the body to a Hospital. The Jail Authority thought once the body was out, it can not be termed as "Custodial death". Krishnapado was declared "brought dead" by TELCO Hospital Doctors. Police Administration of Telco P.S. wanted to send the body for post-mortem as natural death. Only after intervention of PUCL, Jamshedpur D.C. East Singhbhum asked the Executive Magistrate Mr. C.K. Mandal to enquire this matter and constituted a Board of Doctors to perform autopsy under Videography. Doctor declared that Krishnapado died of Asthma and he did not have any mark of Physical injury. The Jail Authorities through their influences propagated this to prove that they were not responsible for the death of Krishnapado. The Magistrate and the District Administration unfortunately not enquiring how Krishnapado met with threatening and ill treatment by "Jail Rangdars".
Though he was old and asthma patient still he was forced to remain in "Kainchi" (fetters) in the toilet area of the ward under the smell of night soils. Even when he was transferred to Jail hospital due to intervention of PUCL, he did not get proper treatment and ultimately died in the Jail Custody. Krishnapado son & wife are so terrified that they would not speak about all these because of fear and the reprisal.
If require any further information, please let us know the same. There are many letters sent from the Jail are with us. These letters tell the horrible condition of the Jail.
The torture, terrorising a threatening, beating of the prisoners of Sakchi Jail should be stopped immediately.
For PUCL Jamshedpur
President, Local branch and Member, National Council
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