TN custodial deaths: Madras High Court orders take over Santhankulam police station

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The Madurai bench of Madras High Court on Monday (June 29) ordered the revenue authorities in Thoothukudi to take control of the Sathankulam police station involved in the custodial death of a father-son duo on June 23.

A Division Bench of Justices PN Prakash and B Pugalendhi extra ordinary action after Thoothukudi principal district judge informed the court that the police personnel in the station were not cooperating with him in probing the death, which sparked outrage across Tamil Nadu.

The bench has directed Thoothukudi district collector Sandeep Nanduri to instruct revenue officials to seize all documents related to the death of Jayaraj and his son Beinks in connection with the violation of the lockdown norms, said an Indian Express report.  

In an earlier order, the court had suggested the magistrate to visit the places of occurrence, which included the police station, to collect clues and take photocopies of relevant documents. The magistrate was also permitted to get statements from the police personnel of Sathankulam police station about where the deceased were kept during the detention.

The judges also directed the Additional Director of Forensic Sciences department to send a team of experts to collect materials from the station. They also granted full liberty to utilise experts from Regional Forensic Sciences Laboratory if needed.

The Additional Advocate General (AAG) K Chellapandian, appearing on behalf of the State government, sought permission from the court to transfer the investigation into the duo's death to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI). However, the judges left the decision to the state government saying that it was a matter of policy.

The court directed the Thoothukudi Superintendent of Police and Deputy Superintendent of Police of Kovilpatti to hand over the case diaries of FIRs registered in connection with the incident to the Chief Judicial Magistrate (CJM) so that the same can be handed over to the CBI in case the central agency takes over the probe.

Chief Minister Edpappadi K Palaniswamy had on Sunday said that the government would hand over the probe to the CBI with the approval of the high court. The case sparked protests across the state after details about the brutal manner in which the two were tortured by the police.

Media reports said that this is not the first custodial death in the Santhankulam police station. A week ago a native of Thoothukudi had died while in custody in the station. The body of Mahendran was laid to rest without even a post-mortem, the report said.

Image Credit: Indian Express

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