ANI Photo | SC stays HC order directing Meghalaya to pay compensation for custodial deaths

The Supreme Court has recently stayed the Meghalaya High Court decision directing the state government to pay compensation of up to Rs 10-15 lakhs in custodial death matters.
“Until further order(s), the impugned judgment and order passed by the High Court shall remain stayed, subject to the condition that the compensation as determined by the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) shall be paid by the petitioner,” the top court said in its January 22 order.
A bench of Justices BR Gavai, Sanjay Karol and Sandeep Mehta also issued notice to concerned respondents on the plea filed by the Meghalaya government.
Meghalaya Govt has challenged a High Court order that directed the state authority to pay compensation in cases of custodial deaths. Meghalaya High Court order has come in a suo motu public interest litigation which was initiated according to a direction issued by the Supreme Court in the judgment related to Re-Inhuman conditions in 1382 prisons.
In its August 2023 order, Meghalaya HC however had clarified that the compensation will be payable only in cases of unnatural death, irrespective of the cause of death.
In cases of natural death in custody, no compensation would be payable at all, HC has made it clear. As to cases where the State suggests that the injuries suffered which caused death were in the course of the person in custody trying to escape, the determination of the cause would be by an appropriate court in accordance with the law, HC has said.
“A death in custody is a slur on a civilised State and completely unacceptable. Ideally, there should be no death, except due to natural causes, while in Custody,” HC has said.

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