The Madras High Court on Friday ordered preservation of the body of Dalit youth E Ilavarasan, giving rise to rumours of a second post-mortem.
A Division Bench, comprising justices V Dhanapalan and C T Selvam directed the authorities concerned to hand over a copy of the post-mortem report and the videograph, to his father Elangovan.
Meanwhile, another Bench, comprising justices M Jaichandran and M M Sundresh, directed the State government to send a responsible officer to Dharmapuri to ascertain the measures to be taken to provide sufficient security to Divya and her family members. It also directed the officer to ascertain whether Divya needed any counselling in Chennai. The State should file a report in this regard on July 8, the Bench said.
The DGP should provide security to Divya and her family members, if it had not already been done, the Bench added.
The Bench was passing interim orders on a public interest writ petition from S Jimraj Milton of Human Rights Protection Centre (HRPC), who among other things, prayed for a direction to transfer Ilavarasan’s death case to the CBI and to free Divya from the communal duress and take appropriate steps against those who caused the duress.
Milton’s counsel R Vaigai submitted that it was a clear case of murder. The railway track was used by trains only at 8 am and after 3 pm and it was a crowded place as it was situated behind a college.
The State had witnessed many honour killings in inter-caste marriages. Allowing Divya to stay back in her village, where there was much communal pressure, would be a threat to her life, she argued.
Earlier in the day, Vaigai had mentioned the matter before the first bench headed by acting Chief Justice R K Agrawal, which however asked her to approach another bench.
In the afternoon, Vaigai pointed out that Divya had lost two of her closest relatives — her father Nagarajan and husband Ilavarasan. Noting that she would be carrying a social stigma and societal pressure, Vaigai said she should have access to quality counseling.
The Bench then asked Advocate-General A L Somayaji as to what measures were taken to safeguard the victims’ families. Somayaji said he would ask the district level and other senior officers to meet the girl and ascertain her views about coming to Chennai for counseling. The judges agreed that she cannot be forced to come to Chennai to attend court proceedings.
The petition by Ramesh prayed for a direction to the Dharmapuri Collector to conduct the post-mortem at the Government Hospital either at Coimbatore or in Chennai by a team of doctors comprising Dr Dekal of Anna Nagar in Chennai, the choice of the victim’s family. The autopsy should also be videographed, the petition added.
The petition was taken up at 12.15 pm, pursuant to the mentioning earlier of R Sankara Subbu, counsel for the petitioner.
He submitted that the Dharmapuri SP had assured him over phone that the post-mortem would not commence before 11.30 am, thereby affording him time to seek orders from the court.
However, the Public Prosecutor told the judges that the post-mortem had already been conducted between 7 am and 11 am.
The proceedings of the post-mortem had also been video-graphed. The Public Prosecutor drew the attention of the judges that a related habeas corpus petition was pending before a different bench and contended that this petition was not maintainable.
In a related development, a separate Bench consisting of justices R Banumathi and T S Sivagnanam granted time till July 19 to the government to file its report on the rehabilitation measures taken by the Dharmapuri administration for the people affected by the violence in the aftermath of the elopement and marriage of Ilavarasan and Divya.