Tihar inmate dies in custody due to the negligence & apathy of prison officials


Jose Abraham vs. Govt of NCT and Ors., W.P.(C) 3146/2012

The petition was filed after an inmate in Tihar died in custody due to the negligence and apathy of prison officials. The deceased had a jejunostomy tube in his stomach, as he could not take food from his mouth. He could only consume liquid food. The prison authorities failed to supply him with a liquid diet and neither did they take him to the hospital when he developed complications. As a result he lost almost 30 kgs of weight within a span of few months as well as contracted tuberculosis, which ultimately resulted in his death. The High Court ordered an inquiry by the District Judge. During the course of the inquiry, about 16 doctors, as well as other officials were cross examined.

The District Judge in his report dated 12.02.13 concluded that the inmate’s death was a result of malnutrition and tuberculosis, both of which he had contracted in the course of his incarceration. Both these conditions resulted in further complications and developed into septicemia, due to which he had died. He observed that the inmate's death was a result of a systemic failure on the part of the prison authorities.

In view of the District Judge’s finding of negligence on the part of the jail officials the High Court asked the petitioners for their suggestions. The petitioners asked for a medical committee to be constituted to identify the issues faced by sick inmates, especially those who are poor, and are at the mercy of prison authorities. The case is pending before the High Court.