On Wednesday, the Madras High Court has taken suo moto cognizance over the custodial deaths of a father and son who were reportedly arrested after an altercation with the police over allegedly having kept their shop open past the curfew imposed, amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
The bench comprising of Justices PM Prakash and B Pugalendhi has sought a status report from the Superintendent of Police over the death of the two accused who allegedly died in police custody mysteriously, ten days after their arrest. Further, the court also directed the District Administration of Tirunelveli to provide necessary infrastructure and support to the DM who is conducting the inquest into their death.
As per sources, Jayaraj, a 60-year-old timber trader was arrested for opening his shop beyond 9 PM and was escorted to the police station for an inquiry in Sathankulam district, Tamil Nadu. Following which, his 31-year-old son Benix Emmanuel who ran a mobile shop, went to the station requesting police to release his father. However, police remanded both the father and son under sections 188, 269, 294(b), 353, and 506(2) of the Indian Penal Code.
Allegations were raised that their deaths were the result of police brutality while in custody which resulted in protests across Sathankulam, Thoothukudi district of Tamil Nadu. Kin of the deceased and the traders have suspected police torture for the death of the duo and protested seeking severe punishment against 13 police personnel.
Taking serious note over the incident, the division bench of Madras High Court while taking suo moto cognizance of the matter, has also directed that the post-mortem of the bodies shall be done by a team of three experts and shall be video graphed. Further, the court added that the public must be informed of the fact that the High Court bench is closely monitoring the case and instill ‘confidence in them’.
“We direct the Tirunelveli and Tuticorin District administration to keep the public informed of the fact that the Madurai Bench of Madras High Court is closely monitoring the case and thereby, instill confidence in them,” stated the bench.
Meanwhile, the State counsel submitted to the Court that two sub-inspectors of the Sathankulam Police Station were suspended over the issue, and action was also taken against two head constables while the Inspector of Police, Santhakulam Police Station has been kept in waiting.
The next hearing of the matter has been listed on 26th June, for further consideration.