The B.C. Human Rights Tribunal has rejected the complaint of an incarcerated Vernon man, who alleged he was transferred within the prison system inhumanely given his claustrophobia.
Paramjit Bogarh, 59, was sentenced to five years in prison March 5, 2020, after pleading guilty to accessory to murder after the fact. Bogarh’s wife, Saminder Kaur Bogarh, was the murder victim while Bogarh’s own brother, Narinder Bogarh, is wanted for her murder. Narinder is reportedly at large in India.
Bogarh filed a complaint against the B.C. prison system on Nov. 19, 2019, alleging discrimination in prison services based on his age and physical and mental disabilities, in violation of section 8 of the Human Rights Code.
The B.C. Human Rights Tribunal rejected Bogarh’s complaint April 15 because he failed to file the complaint within the allowed period of time.
“The issue before me with respect to timeliness is whether to accept the complaint against the Respondents for filing, and I make no findings of fact regarding the merits of this complaint,” said Tribunal member Steven Adamson in his decision.
According to the decision, Bogarh reported having prostate issues, anxiety and claustrophobia, all of which were unaccomodated during two transfers while in custody in mid-2018.
Bogarh’s complaint alleged that on July 17 of that year he was transferred from a correctional facility in the Okanagan to the Surrey Pretrial Services Centre in a small and confined space, triggering his claustrophobia.
Bogarh said he experienced panic attacks as well as an urgency to urinate due to his prostate issues.
“Without washroom stops on the long journey, he reports being left in severe pain while fearing he would urinate himself. Mr. Bogarh states he worried about losing his dignity if that occurred along with the threat of violence from the other inmates that would come with such an incident.”
On Aug. 2, 2018, Bogarh said he was taken to court in similar fashion to the July incident.
Under Section 22 of the Human Rights Code, complaints must be submitted within one year of the incident in question. That deadline can be waived in cases where doing so is in the public interest, but the tribunal chose not to make an exception.
“Mr. Bogarh has provided no reasonable explanation for why he waited so long to file his complaint about events that occurred in 2018. Rather, it points to his interest in not being transported in the same way again,” Adamson said. “That strategic consideration, without more, does not engage the public interest in filing a late‐filed complaint.”
Adamson said Bogarh did not make a reply submission, though he had the opportunity to do so.
Bogarh had three years credit for time in custody at the time of his sentencing in March, meaning he has close to two years in prison remaining.