New Delhi: The Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI) on Wednesday demanded a judicial inquiry into the alleged torture and death of a 40-year-old inmate of Mumbai's Byculla Jail last week and sought a commission to review the state of prisons nationwide.
"We demand an immediate judicial inquiry into the death of Manjula Shetye. A national commission headed by a former Supreme Court chief justice should also be set up to review the state of prisons nationwide immediately in a time bound mandate and whose recommendations must be implemented by all states within a finite time span," CHRI's director Sanjoy Hazarika said.
Hazarika said that Shetye's death on 23 June is a stunning indictment of the "internal rot and impunity" that characterizes India's penal system.
Jailors of Byculla prison beat up convict Shetye brutally for complaining about two eggs and five pieces of bread missing from the morning ration, says the first information report filed by the police on the basis of an eyewitness account.
Shetye, who was serving the last few months of her 14-year jail term for murdering her sister-in-law in 1996, was rushed to Mumbai's Sir JJ Hospital but was pronounced dead on arrival.
Upon learning of her death, other prisoners resorted to violence in the jail attacking the jailor and police personnel and damaged prison property.
Transferred from Pune's Yerawada Central Jail, Shetye was made a jail warden for her good conduct and made in-charge of one of the barracks in Byculla Jail.
"In addition to the vigorous application of the criminal process, arrest and termination of the five constables and jail officer, CHRI demands a time-bound judicial inquiry into the circumstances that could allow this brutality to be perpetrated and prisoners who witnessed this barbaric incident be transferred to another jail," Hazarika said.
The CHRI also calls on the National Human Rights Commission and the Maharashtra State Human Rights Commission to send independent teams to investigate the incident and place the findings in the public domain while urging civil society groups to robustly press for specific changes, which have been pending since the Mulla Committee submitted its report in 1983 on prison reforms, Hazarika said.
A CHRI statement said a prisoner dies every three days in Maharashtra and suicide rates within prisons run at 40 percent higher than in the general population.
According to CHRI website, the CHRI works towards strengthening access to justice through prison and police reforms and building a culture of transparent governance through the Right to Information.
Updated Date: Jun 28, 2017 19:59 PM