Special Correspondent

CHENNAI: The Madras High Court has directed the Tamil Nadu government to pay a compensation of Rs.3.32 lakh with six per cent interest to the family of a construction worker who died in police custody 10 years ago.

Allowing a writ petition by B.Ammu, wife of the deceased, Justice K. K. Sasidharan said the utter carelessness and indifferent attitude of the policemen in providing the weapon to the person in custody to commit suicide had been clearly admitted by the government in the report.

The petitioner submitted that her husband, Balu (26), died while in the custody of the Korattur police here on November 14, 1998, in an alleged theft case. She sought a compensation of Rs.10 lakh.

In his counter, the Deputy Commissioner of Police said Balu alias Balan along with two other co-accused were brought to the Korattur Police Station and were kept in the lock-up.

Subsequently, Balu had made an attempt to commit suicide by using his lungi around his neck and the bars of the window in the lavatory of the police Station. He was taken to KMC Hospital where he was declared dead.

Mr.Justice Sasidharan said Balu appeared to have been in great stress. Police should have avoided all circumstances which would have helped the accused to take the extreme step of extinguishing his life.

When the other two accused were not provided with lungi, Balu alone was given a lungi to wear and that too, in the lavatory.

There was no entry in the station register to show that the accused was searched and whether he was permitted to wear a lungi. All these showed that everything was not well, the Judge said.