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Sathankulam custodial deaths: Can slap murder charges on cops 

Constable’s statement should be recorded by a separate magistrate, says Madurai bench

Published: 01st July 2020 06:03 AM  |   Last Updated: 01st July 2020 06:03 AM   |  A+A-

Cops arriving at the Madurai Bench of Madras High Court on Tuesday | express

Express News Service

MADURAI: There is prima facie evidence to frame murder charges against the Sathankulam policemen in the alleged ‘custodial death’ of two traders - Jeyaraj and his son Beniks- of Sathankulam, said the Madurai Bench of Madras High Court. A bench, comprising Justices P N Prakash and B Pugalendhi, which was hearing the suo motu petition filed in connection with the incident, said the constable’s statement should be recorded by a separate magistrate.

The judges further asked the Thoothukudi Collector to give protection to the constable and her family members and grant her leave from duty since she may face threats. While transferring the case to the CB-CID, the bench appointed DSP Anil Kumar as in-charge of the case. The DSP was directed to take over the investigation forthwith, and the judges reminded him that the court would be closely monitoring the probe. Further directions were issued to the DIG Tirunelveli and Kovilpatti Judicial Magistrate I among others, to pass on the relevant documents, including preliminary postmortem report to the DSP.

‘Cop fled the spot’
In his report, the judicial magistrate had also complained about the hostility of the police personnel at the station, especially of ADSP D Kumar, DSP C Prathapan and constable Maharajan. The magistrate added that Maharajan was giving contradictory answers to the questions asked by him and he also refused to hand over the evidence — his lathi. Another policeman, who was also asked to hand over his lathi, fled the spot, the magistrate said.

Due to the continued disturbance, the magistrate had to leave the station, he added. This prompted the court to initiate suo-motu contempt proceedings against officials concerned. Additional Advocate General  K Chellapandian, appearing on behalf of the State, submitted that the trio acted so owing to the immense stress on them due to the situation and that they regret the same.

He informed the court that ADSP Kumar and DSP Prathapan were placed on the waiting list and constable Maharajan was transferred. He added that nearly 24 other police personnel of the Sathankulam station were transferred. The move was made in view of the apprehensions of the court in the contempt petition that a fair probe is not possible unless the officials are transferred. Recording the submissions and also granting opportunities to the three cops to file their response to the allegations, the judges adjourned the contempt petition for four weeks. 

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