Custodial deaths of father and son arrested for violating COVID-19 curfew: Madras HC to monitor case, status report to be filed by Friday
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Custodial deaths of father and son arrested for violating COVID-19 curfew: Madras HC to monitor case, status report to be filed by Friday

Allegations that their deaths ensued from police brutality triggered protests in Sathankulam. The Court has directed that the public be informed of the fact that the Madurai Bench is closely monitoring the case.

Meera Emmanuel

The Madras High Court on Wednesday took suo motu cognizance over the twin custodial deaths of a father and son who were reportedly arrested after an altercation with the police over allegedly having kept their shop open past the curfew imposed amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The deceased have been identified as Jayaraj and his son Bennix Emmanuel. Allegations that their deaths were the result of police brutality while in custody triggered protests in Sathankulam, Thoothukudi District.

The two were lodged in Kovilpatti Sub-jail on June 20. It is reported that according to prison officials, Bennix complained of chest pain on June 22 evening, and died shortly after he was taken to a hospital. His father is stated to have died of a fever the following day in the same hospital.

Taking a serious view over the incident, the Madurai Bench comprising Justices PN Prakash and B Pugalendhi have asked for reports on the ongoing probe and further instructed that the public be assured that the High Court is monitoring the issue. The order passed on Wednesday states,

"We direct the Tirunelveli and Tuticorin District administration to keep the public informed of the fact that the Madurai Bench of Madras High Court is closely monitoring the case and thereby, instill confidence in them."
Madras High Court

The Court was informed that two sub-inspectors of the Sathankulam Police Station were suspended over the issue. Action was also taken against two head constables and the Inspector of Police, Santhakulam Police Station has been kept in waiting, the State counsel submitted.

Further, it was also informed that an inquest is being conducted by the Judicial Magistrate, Kovilpatti. The Court, in turn, directed the district administration at Tirunelveli to provide the necessary infrastructure and support to aid the Judicial Magistrate to conduct the inquest.

The Court went on to direct that the post mortem, which is to be conducted after the inquest, should be carried out by a three-member expert team and videographed.

The Bench has also ordered that copies of the inquest and the post mortem report should be submitted to High Court Registrar (Judicial) once completed.

The next hearing in the matter is scheduled for the coming Friday, June 26, by which day the Superintendent of Police, Tuticorin, is expected to file a status report.

Additional Advocate General K Chellapandian assisted by Additional Prosecutor R Anandharaj appeared for the respondents, including the police.

Read the Order:

The Registrar (Judicial), Madurai Bench of Madras High Court v. The State of Tamil Nadu and ors. - June 24 order.pdf
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