Madras HC
Madras HC takes suo motu cognisance of Tuticorin cops for preventing the judicial magistrate from conducting an inquiry (Representative Image)

MHC seeks report on father-son duo custodial death case by June 26

The death of a father-son duo in a hospital after they were allegedly beaten up by police has caused a furore in Tamil Nadu, with the Madras High Court seeking a report on the matter.

Tamil Nadu Chief Minister K Palaniswami said four police personnel, including two Sub-Inspectors, have been suspended in connection with the incident while an inspector has been put on wait. He also announced a cash relief of Rs 10 lakh each to the respective families of the victims, besides offering a job.

The Madurai bench of the Madras High Court directed the police to submit a report on June 26 over the death of the duo. The relatives of P Jayaraj and his son J Fennix alleged that the two, earlier picked up for questioning for keeping their mobile accessories shop open during the lockdown, were thrashed by the police personnel in the station.

Meanwhile, Palaniswami detailed the chain of events leading to the deaths, and said the duo were picked up on June 19 after a case was filed against them for not heeding police direction to close their cellphone shop as it was functioning beyond stipulated hours. They were later arrested and lodged in the Kovilpatti sub-jail.

On June 22, Fennix complained of breathlessness and was admitted to a local government hospital where he died around 9 pm after failing to respond to treatment, the Chief Minister said in a statement. The next morning, Fennix’s father Jayaraj was admitted to the hospital after he complained of illness, but died, he added.

Subsequently, a case was filed in this connection. When the relatives of the deceased moved the Madurai bench of the Madras High Court, it ordered video recording of the post-mortem, even as it took up the case on its own today. IG South Zone Shanmuga Rajeswaran and Tuticorin district police chief Arun Balagopal appeared before the court in the virtual hearing on Wednesday, Palaniswami said. They informed the bench that two sub-inspectors and two head constables attached to Sathankulam police station have been placed under suspension, while the inspector was put on waiting list.

Related news: Sexual torture inflicted on father-son in TN police custody: Witnesses

The bench of Justices P N Prakash and B Pugalendi directed the Tuticorin Superintendent of Police to submit a status report, post-mortem video, among others and posted the case for further hearing on June 26. The court said it will monitor the case, Palaniswami added. Rajeswaran and Balagopal were present when the case came up for hearing, although the court had directed state police chief J K Tripathy to appear, but he could not do so since he was in a meeting in Chennai.

The Chief Minister also said a judicial magistrate was conducting an inquest. Expressing his condolences to the kin of the deceased, he said the further course of action will be based on the report of the magistrate,as well as the directions of the High Court. He announced Rs 10 lakh each to the families of the deceased and a government job to one person from the family, based on their qualification.

Meanwhile, the family of the deceased demanded that a murder case be registered against the two sub-inspectors, alleging they were responsible for the death of the two men. They said they had lost both the male members of their family. Various political parties, including the DMK, wanted action against those responsible for the duos death. Party leader and Tuticorin Lok Sabha MP Kanimozhi dubbed the incident as “violence” committed by the police and wanted action against two sub-inspectors for their alleged roles in the incident.

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