Staff Reporter

Channabasappa is said to have died due to lack of timely medical attention

Incident was reported in a Kannada weeklyUpalokayukta asked a former judge to investigate the deathProbe found that prison authorities had not followed statutory provisions

BANGALORE: Upalokayukta G. Patri Basavana Goud has recommended an inquiry into the death of an inmate at the Bellary Central Prison allegedly due to lack of timely medical attention.

Mr. Goud has recommended to the State Government that the inquiry should look into the roles of the doctor at the prison, eight district surgeons and the Prison Superintendent.

Investigation by judge

Mr. Goud's recommendation was made on the basis of an investigation conducted by the former District Judge R. Ganesh Rao on the basis of a report published in a Kannada weekly about the death of an undertrial, Channabasappa. "Considering the seriousness of the issue, I am sending the copy of the order to the National Human Rights Commission and to the Additional Director-General of Police (Prisons)," Mr. Goud told The Hindu .

The Kannada weekly had published a letter by Ujjani Gowda, another inmate, attributing the death of the undertrial to the negligence of the jail authorities and the prison doctor, C.P. Chetan. Gowda said Channabasappa had complained of body-ache and fever for four days but was not provided medical treatment.

On November 26 last year, Dr. Chetan asked Prison Superintendent G. Veerabhadraswamy to send the patient, along with an escort, for a detailed examination at the Vijayanagar Institute of Medical Sciences (VIMS). However, as an escort was not available, Channabasappa was not taken to the hospital. He died on November 28. The cause of death was given as "respiratory failure as a result of pneumonic consolidation of both lungs."

Mr. Goud took suo motu notice of the report and asked Mr. Rao to conduct an investigation under Section 15 (3) of the Karnataka Lokayukta Act. Mr. Rao's investigation took four months, and he submitted his report in April 2006.

Provisions not followed

In his report, Mr. Rao said the prison authorities had not followed the statutory provisions in the Karnataka Prisons Act, the Karnataka Prison Rules and the Karnataka Prisons Manual in providing medical treatment to Channabasappa. Mr. Rao said the Prison Superintendent was supposed to visit the jail hospital daily and see that proper arrangements were made for the safe custody and treatment of sick prisoners. The district surgeons should visit the prison twice a week and see every prisoner.

Mr. Rao found that none of the eight district surgeons had visited the prison since November 2000. Prison officials had not maintained the casebook, which records the history of every person admitted to hospital, the symptoms and the treatment given. "Except noting the symptoms of Channabasappa in a loose sheet (of paper) no other record is maintained. Despite knowing that he was suffering from fever, temperature was not recorded," Mr. Rao said.

Dr. Chetan, Mr. Rao said, did not bring to the notice of Prison Superintendent G. Veerabhadraswamy that Channabasappa's condition was deteriorating.

The Upalokayukta said that he was satisfied with the conclusions drawn by Mr. Rao and asked the Government to conduct a departmental inquiry.