[Sathankulam Custodial Deaths] CBI takes over probe, Vijay Kumar Shukla tasked as Investigating Officer
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[Sathankulam Custodial Deaths] CBI takes over probe, Vijay Kumar Shukla tasked as Investigating Officer

The suspected offences listed in the CBI's FIR include those of illegal detention, murder and destruction of evidence.

Meera Emmanuel

After the Tamil Nadu Government made the reference, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has now officially taken over the investigation in the custodial deaths of two traders, Jeyaraj and Bennix while the custody of the Sathankulam Police, Tamil Nadu.

Additional Superintendent of Police, Vijay Kumar Shukla has been designated the Investigating Officer in the case, as recorded in the CBI's First Information Report dated July 7. The same is also stated to have been forwarded to the Chief Judicial Magistrate at Madurai.

The suspected offences listed in the FIR include those of illegal detention, murder and destruction of evidence.

Jeyaraj and Bennix were arrested by the Sathankulam Police on June 19 citing a violation of the COVID-19 curfew for keeping their mobile shop open past the curfew time.

Their deaths in police custody days after their arrest prompted public outcry over the alleged custodial torture meted out to them by the Sathankulam Police.

Last month, the Madurai Bench decided suo motu to monitor the case, which involves allegations of police brutality including sexual abuse, a mechanical remand by the judicial magistrate and inadequate medical treatment leading to the deaths of Jeyaraj and Bennix.

Following the Tamil Nadu Government's move to transfer to case to the CBI, the High Court had also intervened to task Anil Kumar, the Deputy Superintendent of Police, CB-CID, Tirunelveli, to take over as the investigating officer until the CBI takes charge.

This was done to guard against the possibility of the local police officials acting to tamper with case evidence in the meanwhile. Several police officers have since been arrested for their alleged role in the case.

A judicial inquiry into the custodial deaths, under Section 176, CrPC, is being conducted by the Judicial Magistrate No. 1, Kovilpatti, who had earlier also informed the Court of intimidatory tactics allegedly deployed by the local police officers during the conduct of the inquiry.

The case is scheduled to be taken up for hearing again by the Madras High Court tomorrow.

Read the CBI FIR:

Sathankulam Custodial Death - CBI.pdf
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