Karnataka PUCL & SICHREM Report:

Custodial Death in Karnataka

Fact-Finding Report of The Custodial Death of Sudath Kumar Jain

Sudath Kumar Jain was a 40-year-old man residing at Moodabidri Town in Mangalore district, Karnataka State. He was a part-time film theatre contractor and was working as a projectionist in D. H. O. P. Udupi.

On the 29th of May 2000, a group of policemen, including a Sub-inspector (Lakshmi Narayan) and 3 people in civil dress who are supposed to be constables, went to the deceased Mr. Sudath Kumar's house at about 12.15 A. M. After his day-long work, Sudath Kumar had finished his supper and was sound asleep. The policemen banged on the door and woke him up. Then they asked for the records of the theatre. Mr. Sudath Kumar said " I don't have it," but they repeatedly asked for it. He was allegedly arrested for exhibiting blue films in the theatre which he had taken on lessee. The owner's son, who came later to the scene said that he was having the documents; they asked Mr. Sudath Kumar to put on his clothes and accompany them. -- This statement was given by Mrs. Sudath Kumar.

Later at 2.30 A. M. two Police constables came to Mrs. Sudath Kumar and asked her for the Medical Prescriptions of Mr. Sudath Kumar. She asked "what medical prescriptions?" Then they said that he had been admitted to the hospital because he was not feeling well. They had come in two autorickshaws. So she asked whether she could go with them. But they said that it was not necessary. But she went along with them to "Alvas Hospital"- which is about 1 Km from her house-where Mr. Sudath Kumar had been admitted. When she reached the Hospital, she was not allowed to see Mr. Sudath Kumar.

One of her relatives went inside the hospital and saw Mr. Sudath Kumar who was in a pool of blood. He was bleeding from his mouth. Till 4.30 A. M., he was kept in the same Hospital ICU. At about 4.30 am he was taken to the Kakkodi Fr. Muller's hospital. The Police Jeep followed them to the hospital.

They reached Fr. Muller's hospital around 5.30 A. M. The same day at 8.30 A. M. he expired. Later he was transferred to the Wenlock hospital; the next day the body was taken for postmortem.

Statements: Ajitha Kumari (39) w/o Late Sudath Kumar:
a. " He was a healthy man who was not under any treatment for any ailment".
b. " When he was taken by the police, my husband was perfectly alright."
c. After about 3 hrs, when I saw him, he was in a pool of blood.
d. "I strongly believe that the policemen have beaten up my husband and that led to his death." e. "He was the only source of income for my family and I have two children who are studying."
f. "I want the truth to come out and justice to be delivered."
g. "The person/persons who have committed the murder should be punished".

Dr. Mohan Alva, Alvas Health Centre, Moodabidri: "At about 1.45 a.m. Mr. Sudath Kumar was brought to my hospital by 3 police men including one head Constable".

"When I attended on the patient, I found that the coffee brown blood was coming out of his mouth. He was unconscious, and one side was paralysed., I think that he had some disease previously. I didn't find any external injuries. Seeing his bad condition, I suggested that they take him to Muller's hospital at Mangalore".

Sub-inspector of Police, Moodabidri Police Station: "I joined duty a few days back. We don't have any F. I. R against this particular case, I think that because he was taken by the police he was afraid and because of shock he starting vomiting blood. And later he collapsed in the station itself and we admitted him in Alva's hospital".

We spoke to some of the local people, a majority of whom said that he died because of police torture.

The following are the question raised:
1. According to Mrs. Ajitha's statement, he was a healthy man; he did not have a medical history of any illness.
2. According to the Doctor and policemen, he was an alcoholic, suffered from kidney failure, and was an epileptic patient.
3. The distance between the house and Moodabidri Police station is less than 1 k.m. according to her. He was in police custody between 12.30 A.M. and 1.45 AM. Within this short period of time how did he become unconscious, paralysed and end up in a pool of blood?
4. In the region of South Canara, this is the first time a Superintendent of Police has filed a criminal case of murder against a sub inspector.
5. The death of a person about 8/10 years back in the same station is still in the memory of people of the district.

This fact-finding was done by SICHREM & PUCL (K). This incident we would like to place before you. - Bangalore, 30th June 2000

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(PUCL Bulletin, Aug 2000)