Justice K Chandru, a retired judge of the Madras High Court, said Sathankulam Judicial Magistrate B Saravanan should be dismissed from service for “judicial impropriety, violation of Supreme Court guidelines on arrest, and for the clear case of misconduct”.
He made this statement with regard to the alleged flouting of Supreme Court norms in the case of the father-son duo (Jayaraj and Emmanuel Benicks) who died in police custody in Thoothukudi.
“After the first watch dog “police” had abused their power the magistrate too was defeating the judicial system by not following SC guidelines of arrest,” The Indian Express quoted Justice Chandru as saying, adding that the magistrate of Sathankulam cannot wash off his hands saying there were no complaints from the accused when they were produced.
Rajkumar, one of Benicks’s friends, said the police had taken the duo to Judicial Magistrate B Saravanan’s house. “We told Benicks to inform the judicial magistrate whatever had happened to him while in police custody. But he was afraid and told us that the police had threatened him of ruining his life if he revealed anything to the magistrate,” Rajkumar said.
According to his friends, “Four police personnel had surrounded him (Benicks) when he was remanded in judicial custody. The personnel were constantly threatening the father and son. So, practically it was not possible for the duo to tell the judicial magistrate what had happened,” said Rajkumar.
However, Justice Chandru told The Indian Express, “If they were severely injured and bleeding, the magistrate should have probed those injuries. The magistrate should have questioned the police even if the father and son were seen limping. It was the job of the magistrate. The Sathankulam judicial magistrate who let down the law and Constitution of the country should be dismissed from service.”
Justice Chandru explained that the 11 commandments in the D K Basu vs State of Bengal case were mandated by the Supreme Court to follow as guidelines across India. “No accused in custody will have the courage to tell the magistrate that he was tortured in custody. It was the job of the magistrate to check on the accused. He should have asked them why they were seemingly unwell, why there were injuries or bleeding, whether the police informed their relatives before remand, and if they had a lawyer. These elementary constitutional rights should have been ensured by the magistrate,” he was quoted as saying by The Indian Express.
Justice Chandru also went on to claim that the alleged police torture was an outcome of a new power structure that is slowing being established after the lockdown.
According to The Indian Express, Justice Chandru said, “The entire power is now in the hands of police and bureaucrats. The situation is such that even the opposition leader is limited to his house entrance to protest against the state.
“Still, it was the backing of a powerful traders community like Nadars that triggered protests across the state for victims in this case. But similar violations may be taking place… And even the court is not helping here,” he added.