Sathankulam deaths: HC orders CB-CID probe

Chennai: Observing that there were possibilities of tampering with the evidences in the custodial deaths of a father-son duo allegedly due to police brutality at Sathankulam, the Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court today directed the Crime Branch-CID (CB-CID) to immediately take up the probe, even by registering murder cases, till the CBI takes over the case.

A Division Bench comprising Justices P.N.Prakash and B.Pugalendhi, while
hearing the suo motu public interest litigation, directed Tirunelveli CB-CID
Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP) Anil Kumar to take up the investigation
today itself even by registering murder cases against the police personnel
involved in the alleged brutality, resulting in the deaths of Jayaraj and his
son Benicks on 22 and 23 June respectively.

The court, earlier sought Tamilnadu government’s response whether it could
make an interim arrangement by transferring the probe to the Deputy Inspector
General of Police (Tirunelveli range) or the CB-CID.

When Additional Advocate General K Chellapandian submitted that the DIG,
Tirunelveli range shall take over the case, the Judges directed the CB-CID
DSP Anil Kumar to take over the probe with immediate effect, as an interim
arrangement till the CBI takes over the case in the wake of State government
last night ordering transfer of the probe to the central investigating agency.

The Judges observed that they did not want to delay, as the family members
of the victims, who repose faith on judiciary, and the public confidence should
not be lost.

The court further said a perusal of the preliminary post-mortem report and the
‘inquest’ report submitted by Kovilpatti Judicial Magistrate (JM) Bharathidasan
revealed that a prima facie material was available to register a case under Sec
302 (Murder) of the IPC against the police personnel responsible for the death
of the father-son duo.

‘There were enough proof of assault on bodies of Jayaraj and Benicks and the
police personnel at Sathankulam police station had intimidated the JM during
judicial enquiry,’ the Judges said.

The court on Monday took serious note on the report of Kovilpatti JM that the
District police administration was doing everything within their command to
prevent him from proceeding with the inquiry into the deaths, while observing
that unless the ASP, DSP and other policemen in Sathankulam Police Station
were transferred, it will be very difficult to ensure a free and fair probe.

The HC also initiated suo motu criminal contempt proceedings against ASP
D.Kumar, DSP C.Prathaban and constable Murugan, who had made some
disparaging remarks agains the JM when he went to the station for the
investigation.

Based on the directions of the court, all the three police personnel appeared
before the court today. The Judges directed them to give an explanation for
intimidating the Kovilpatti JM within four weeks.

Agency