Compensation for prisoners’ death: Karnataka HC disposes of case after government’s new policy

 The High Court of Karnataka on Thursday disposed of a petition it had initiated in 2017 after the State government informed it that a new policy has been framed to provide compensation to the families of persons who lose their lives in jails.

As per the new policy, in the case of unnatural death inside prisons due to conflicts or fights among inmates, the family of the deceased person will be paid Rs 7.5 lakh. In the case of unnatural deaths, including suicide, the compensation is Rs 5 lakh.

The government advocate submitted that a government order in this regard has been issued.

The division bench of Chief Justice Prasanna B Varale and Justice Krishna S Dixit, who heard the petition, disposed of it after recording the submission.

The High Court said, “Considering the above referred Government Order, in our opinion the cause represented in this suo-motu PIL is duly addressed and further properly redressed by the State Government. Accordingly, the PIL is disposed of.”

The PIL was filed pursuant to the order passed by the then Acting Chief Justice based on a letter by Ravindra Maithani, Secretary General, Supreme Court, on September 18, 2017, to comply with the directions of the apex court.

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The Supreme Court had in a judgement on September 15, 2017 issued directions on the issue of compensation payable to deaths of prison inmates.

The State Government had earlier contended that “in case of prisoners who have died by suicide in prisons, the State was under no obligation to compensate the next of kin of the prisoners” on the ground that the acts of suicide are voluntary acts of the prisoner.

However, the High Court had said that “When a prisoner is in custody of the State, in the sense that he is detained in a prison, he is not deprived of all his rights under Article 21 of the Constitution.”

Senior advocates M Dhyan Chinnappa and B V Vidyulatha had served as Amicus Curiae to the court in this PIL.

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