New Delhi: The Madras High Court has sought a report from the Tamil Nadu Police on its probe into the twin custodial deaths of a father and son, who were arrested after they allegedly had an altercation with the police for keeping their shop open beyond permitted hours during the Covid-19 curfew imposed in the state.
A Madurai bench of the high court, comprising Justices P.N. Prakash and B. Pugalendhi, took serious view of the incident Wednesday and instructed police to inform the public about the suo motu cognisance the court has taken of the deaths. The bench said the public must be given an assurance that the court was monitoring the issue.
The incident, reported from Santhankulam in Thoothkukudi district of Tamil Nadu, has triggered protests in the area. The dead were identified as Jayaraj (59) and his son Benix Emmanuel (31).
After their arrests, the two men were lodged at the Kovilpatti sub-jail on 20 June. According to reports, Benix complained of chest pain two days later and died shortly after he was moved to a hospital.
His father reportedly died of a fever on the third day in the same hospital.
‘Instill confidence in public’
Over 1,000 people had gathered outside the local police station in protest, alleging that the deaths were a result of police brutality while the two men were in custody.
It has been claimed that police personnel patrolling the area had pulled Jayaraj while he was closing his shop around 8.15 pm, beyond the permitted time, on the day of his arrest. That led to an argument between the father-son duo and the police personnel.
“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 the public,” the high court noted in its order, fixing 26 June for the next hearing.
A direction was given to videograph the postmortem, which the court said will be done by a panel of three-experts, after the police completes its inquest proceedings. Copies of both reports – the post-mortem and inquest – should be submitted to the high court, the order said.
The court was also told about the action the state police department had initiated against four policemen who were reportedly involved in the altercation.