Court orders compensation for victim in 14 year old case

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IMPHAL, July 21: The High Court of Manipur in a ruling has directed state respondents inclusive of police personnel to give a compensation of Rs 3 lacs to a victim who had died in their custody.

The victim identified as Rk Laksana alias Vito,son of Ninthemcha ongbi Sakhenbi Devi ,resident of Haobam Marak Ngangom Leikai under Singjamei Police Station, Imphal West district was arrested by police commandos from the courtyard of one Sukham Yaima Singh of Chingamakha Oinam Leirak at around 9.30 am on 15/2/1999. Laksana expired on the same day from bullet injury at a place at Mayang Langjing located about 12 km from Imphal.

The petitioner and mother of the victim lodged a complaint to the Singjamei Police Station regarding her son’s death and a case was taken up under FIR number 36(2)1999 Singjamei PS Under Section 307 IPC, read with 25 (1) (B) Arms Act.

The family members came to know about the death of Laksana a few days later eventually formed a joint action committee and started agitation, subsequently a memorandum was submitted to the then Chief Minister and an understanding was reached on 19/2/199. A notification then issued by the government had directed a district magistrate of Imphal West was  to conduct an inquiry to find out the circumstances leading to the death of Rk Laksana and also to find whether he was killed by police personnel by resorting to indiscriminate firing which could have been avoided and fixed responsibility of his death.

The report of the inquiry was submitted to the government on 21/8/2000, but, the petitioner was not furnished with a copy of the report nor was the inquiry report made public. The investigation of the death was not conducted further by the concerned police station also. Due to the circumstances, the mother of the deceased made an appeal to the then Gauhati High Court, Imphal bench and filed a petition which was accepted by the Court and thereby a case was taken up under W.P. (C) number 1986 of 2001 and made a ruling by a single bench of the mentioned Court. The verdict given by the Court was not agreed by the petitioner and again filed a writ appeal to the same court under number 10 of 2010.

The hearing of the appeal was made on 14/5/2013 and date of judgment was announced on 21/5/2013. Meanwhile, the respondents had also filed an affidavit in connection to the case. It mentioned that Laksana alias Vito was a member of outlawed organization PLA and on interrogation mentioned that some of his associates had sheltered at Loitang Khunou. The police had taken him to identify the place to arrest the cadres but near Mayang Langjing village, the respondents (police team) were fired upon, believed to be from the mentioned militants. The respondents also returned fire and continued for some minutes. After the encounter, the respondents had found Laksana lying dead near the said spot.

Decrying the version of the respondents, Laksana’s mother in her appeal had mentioned that her son after being picked up from Chingamakha.At that time, his hands were tied and was blindfolded, she asserted in her case that how could her son escape from their custody in such a condition.

The Court verdict stated that it would not be possible to infer that the fire projectiles of AK ammunition recovered from the dead body was not fired from none of the firearms held and used by the respondents. The court viewed that keeping in view of the meaning of custody according to different apex courts, it was considered that Rk Laksana was very much in the custody of the respondents at the time of killing him as he was under their control and also he was physically in their hold at the time of the incident.

For fixing the quantum of compensation, the age and capability of earning of the deceased have been meticulously considered by the Court and fixed at Rs 3 lacs.

According to the writ petition number 10 of 2010, the respondents are directed to pay the compensation to the petitioner within a period of three months from the date of judgment and order. The respondents are the State of Manipur, represented by the chief secretary, DGP, SP (Imphal West), Special Secretary (Home), District Magistrate (Imphal West) and the main respondents are Pebam John Singh , SI of commando unit of Imphal West district, constable Longjam Rokhon Singh,Thangmang Kipgen, K Bijoy Tarao and Fajur Rahaman.

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