The Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court has directed the jurisdictional Judicial Magistrate to conduct an enquiry into the alleged custodial deaths of a father-son duo who were lodged in Sub Jail, Kovilpatti in Thoothukudi District in Tamil Nadu.
The division bench comprising Justices P.N. Prakash and B. Pugalendhi has directed the Magistrate to visit to the local Police station and record the statements of the policemen, so as to gather an idea as to “where all the deceased were kept during their detention“.
The bench has also asked the Magistrate to take a photocopy of the case diary in the said case, for safe custody.
On Wednesday, the High Court had taken suo moto cognizance of the twin deaths, allegedly due to police excesses.
In the backdrop, an FIR was lodged against the deceased at Sathankulam Police Station on June 19, allegedly for violating lockdown restrictions and further for misbehaving with on-duty police personnel. The two were remanded to Judicial custardy at Sub Jail, Kovilpatti, on June 20, 2020, and died on the following days.
Taking notice of the matter, the division bench had ordered the Ordered the Tamil Nadu Police to submit a report on its probe into the incident, vide order dated June 24. The court had also directed that the autopsy of the deceased by videographed.
When the matter came up for hearing today, the court was informed that two Sub-Inspectors at the Sathankulam Police Station had been placed under suspension, and action had been taken against two Head Constables, who were allegedly associated with the custodial deaths.
The court has now ordered a judicial probe, and has listed the matter for consideration on June 30.
The bench has also taken notice of another report about an inmate of the Sub Jail, Kovilpatti who has suffered serious injuries and is under treatment. A judicial enquiry in this regard has also been ordered.
Following the custodial deaths as mentioned above, the Director General of Tamil Nadu Police had issued fresh guidelines (SOP) for arrest/remand of accused persons on June 24.
While appreciating the DG for his efforts, the court made it clear that the SOP should not remain on paper but, should be implemented in spirit as well.
“In this regard, we suggest that the Police Department engages the services of counsellors and NGOs for providing counselling to the police personnel and their family members during this testing period,” the court ordered.