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Madras High Court transfers probe into custodial deaths of Jayaraj, Bennix to CB-CID

The HC expressed fear that evidence could disappear by the time CBI took over Jayaraj-Bennix case, the father-son duo who died allegedly due to police torture.

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Madurai: The Madras High Court on Tuesday ordered the transfer of investigation into the death of a father-son duo in Tuticorin, alleged victims of police torture, to the CB-CID, expressing fear that evidence could disappear by the time CBI took over the probe.

The Judges appointed Anil Kumar, DSP, CB-CID as the investigating officer, considering his track record, and directed that he start the probe immediately saying, “in a case of physical violence, alacrity in investigation is the need of the hour.”

Justices P N Prakash and B Pugalendhi, who gave the direction, also observed that they were constrained to do so to ensure that “precious evidence does not get dissipated over the time”

“If we don’t act now, it will become too late. The Centre should give consent for the CBI investigation. Besides, the CBI does not have an office in Tuticorin, and even if an Investigation officer is appointed by the CBI, it would take time for him to acclimatise to the local environment,” the bench said.

The state government had on Monday transferred the probe to the central investigation agency.

Anil Kumar should take charge forthwith and proceed further without waiting for any formal order from the DGP in Chennai. The investigation would be monitored by the SP, CB- CID, Tirunelveli, the court said.

The court felt there was prima facie enough evidence to alter the case to one of murder.

The Judges directed the Chief Judicial Magistrate, Tuticorin or the DSP, Kovilpatti, as the case may be, to hand over the case diary to Anil Kumar.

The CJM, Tuticorin or SP Tuticorin, shall hand over the case diary regarding the case filed against the father-son duo earlier by the police to the CB-CID officer.

The Kovilpatti JM will also hand over his report, after completing enquiry to, Anil Kumar.

The judges handed over JM, Kovilpatti’s initial report, and initial post mortem report to DIG, Tirunelveli Range.

Also read: After Jayaraj & Bennix deaths, 80 Tamil Nadu policemen taken off duty for behaviour therapy

They said that from the report filed by the Judicial Magistrate, they were able to discern that the Sathankulam police were taking advantage of the fact the investigation of the case was in limbo and were attempting to cause disappearance of evidence.

They were emboldened enough to even intimidate the JM during the investigation in the station, the judges noted.

The original statement of the Head Constable of the station Revathy should also be given to the the DSP Anil Kumar.

The District Collector should ensure protection to the Head constable and her family.

The judges said that Revathy could be given leave as there would be an attempt to intimidate her.

The court observed that public indignation cannot be a barometer for the Judicial orders in this case. Public memory is short, but court record and orders will live for ever, they said.

Quoting from religious scriptures, they said Pontius Pilate, the Roman governor, committed the ‘blunder’ of condemning Jesus Christ to death based on public outcry in a sham trial that was held before dawn, and thereafter he washed his hands with water.

“We cannot afford to emulate him,” the judges said.

The bench hoped Anil Kumar will bear in mind, “the river of tears flowing from the eye of the family of the two deceased and take up investigation of the case in all earnestness for wiping their tears.”

The DSP should also bear in mind that the court was closely monitoring him.

The Judges said “it is always open to the state government to revisit the plea of entrusting the matter to the CBI if it is satisfied that Anil Kumar is proceeding on the right lines”.

Meanwhile, three policemen, including an Additional SP appeared before the court as directed by it.

It had summoned them to appear before it for allegedly trying to prevent an enquiry by the Judicial Magistrate, who had also submitted that one of them, a constable, had made some ‘disparaging’ remarks.

D Kumar, ADSP, Tuticorin, C Prathapan, DSP and Maharajan, a constable attached with the Sathankulam Police station, appeared before the court.

Also read: Stop cheering police brutality. Citizens like Jayaraj and Bennix pay the price


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