The Meghalaya High Court has decided to allow the relatives of the 50 persons who died in jails or police lock ups in the State since 2012, to be represented in the court at the next hearing on August 28.
The order was passed today by the division bench of the High Court on a suo motu PIL regarding custodial death in the State.
“Since previous notices were issued to the next of kin of the 50 persons who died in custody in the State since the year 2012, it will be open to the relatives of those who suffered custodial deaths to be represented in court at the time of the next hearing. The matter will appear on August 28, 2023,” the High Court said.
The court also directed the Registrar-General to issue a notice in the leading English and local language newspapers informing the general public that relatives of those who suffered custodial death in the State since 2012 may choose to be represented to be heard when the matter is taken up next. The cost of advertisements will be borne by the State government.
The State government had earlier published a notification providing for Rs 7.5 lakh as compensation in respect of unnatural deaths while in custody.
However, the High Court today reminded of a judgment of the year 2018 in a case of torture while in custody resulting in death where a compensation of Rs 15 lakh was awarded to the next of kin of the victim. The State government also accepted the order and made the payment.
According to the High Court, a classification should also be made as to the quantum of compensation based on the age of the person at the time of his death.
The court also observed that the quantum of compensation for unnatural death in custody should be fixed at a punitive rate “so that it is a real deterrent and it hurts the State government the next time that a citizen dies in its custody”.