New Delhi: The Madras High Court has noted that while politicians had condemned the custodial deaths of a father and son duo, P.Jeyaraj and J.Benicks, in June, they hadn’t done the same for a constable who was allegedly killed when a criminal hurled country bombs at a special police team last week.
The court’s observation came Monday while hearing a case related to a habeas corpus petition that was filed in 2018. The case concerned a “clash between rowdy groups” that resulted in the death of a man and injuries to a Central Crime Branch policeman. The petition had challenged the detention of one of the accused under the Goondas Act [Tamil Nadu Act 14 of 1982].
Taking note of the recent incident, a bench comprising Justices N. Kirubakaran and V.M. Velumani observed, “When a father and son duo viz., P. Jeyaraj & J. Benicks died due to police brutality while in custody, all the political leaders condemned the said incident, which has to be necessarily done, and condolences poured in from various political leaders to the family. This case is no different from that case.”
It added, “Political leaders, particularly the local minister and the local MP have not even offered their condolences to the family of martyred police constable Subramanian.”
Subramanian died when a criminal allegedly hurled country bombs at a special police team that had gone to arrest him in Tuticorin district. The court noted that Subramanian is survived by his pregnant wife and a 10-month-old son.
The court also questioned the silence of activists and organisations that otherwise raise a “hue and cry, and condemn police action against criminals as violation of human rights”.
The bench further said that while the state government ordered Rs 50 lakh compensation and a government job to a family member of the constable, “no other political party … except DMDK … condoled the death of the young policeman at the hands of a rowdy element”.
Listing other such instances of violence by “rowdy gangs”, the court demanded the state government’s response on enacting a law similar to the Maharashtra Control of Organised Crimes Act (MCOCA), 1999, and the Karnataka Control of Organised Crimes Act, 2000, for Tamil Nadu.
The case will next be heard after two weeks.
HC bats for a law like MCOCA
In an order passed in November 2018 in the habeas corpus petition, the court had noted “how the rowdy gangs/paid killers are active in Tamil Nadu, jeopardising law and order and creating panic in the minds of the common man in Tamil Nadu as well as in the other parts of our country”.
It had then expanded the scope of the petition, to add the director general of police, Tamil Nadu, and the central government as respondents.
Later, in another order, it had raised 25 queries before the authorities. This included questions on the number of “rowdy gangs/paid killers (mercenaries)” active in Chennai, Tamil Nadu and other parts of the country, the number of murders committed by these gangs/paid killers, cases registered against them and rate of conviction in cases involving them, among others.
Questions were also asked on political parties “having criminals/persons with criminal background as office bearers”.
In response, the state government had asserted that there was no need for a law similar to the MCOCA in Tamil Nadu. The authorities had noted that the state was “comparatively free of such terrorist activities or the large presence of violent gangs or syndicates, paid killers mercenaries in Tamil Nadu”.
The court Monday did not agree with the state government’s assertion and cited examples of cases dealt by it over the past years. It then directed the state government to file a “proper reply” to the queries raised by it.