Sathankulam deaths: Madras HC asks CB-CID to probe until CBI takes over

Ruling that murder charges can be pressed against Sathankulam police, the court initiated contempt proceedings against three cops who were accused by a magistrate of obstructing his probe

The high court's directive comes a day after the state government transferred the case from the state police to the CBI. Photo: PTI

The Madurai bench of Madras High Court on Tuesday (June 30) ruled that there is prima facie evidence to register a murder case against Sathankulam police in the custodial deaths of a father-son duo in Tamil Nadu’s Tuticorin district and asked CB-CID police to probe the case until the CBI takes over.

The court directed CB-CID DSP Anilkumar to start the investigation from Tuesday.

Related news: Tuticorin custodial deaths: CCTV footage nails police lies

The court also initiated contempt proceedings against three policemen – Deputy Superintendent of Police C Prathapan, Additional Deputy Superintendent of Police D Kumar and police constable Maharajan – who were accused by a judicial magistrate for making disparaging remarks at him and obstructing his probe.  The court on Monday (June 29) had taken a suo motu cognizance of the matter and summoned the three officers.

A divisional bench comprising Justice PN Prakash and Justice B Pugalenthi expressed concern over chances of tampering the evidence in the custodial death of P Jayaraj and his son J Bennicks.

Earlier in the morning, the court had sought the response of the state government on whether the inquiry can be taken up by the Tirunelveli range DIG or the CB-CID police until the CBI takes over the case.

Based on the state government’s response, the divisional bench ordered the CB-CID to temporarily take charge of the probe.

This comes a day after the state government transferred the case from the state police to CBI. However, the CBI is yet to take over the case.

Related news: Tension grips Tuticorin district due to death of father-son duo

The three policemen against whom contempt proceedings were initiated also appeared in deference to court summons. During the hearing, Additional Advocate General Chellapandiyan submitted that the cops verbally abused the judicial magistrate due to stress.

Reacting to it, the bench said that it is shocked to know that a magistrate was abused by a constable in the presence of his senior officials. The court adjourned the suo motu case to four weeks and asked the erring officers to file a response.

Even as the court proceedings were underway, the state government on June 30 placed Tuticorin SP Arun Balagopal under compulsory wait and posted Villupuram SP Jayaraj to Tuticorin. The South Zone was also replaced with IG Murugan of economic offences wing.

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