After the death of the father and son under police custody in Thoothukudi district triggered massive furor and outrage in Tamil Nadu, the Madras High Court Madurai bench took the matter of the custodial death in suo motu cognizance and directed the police department of Thoothukudi to disclose the report on the incident on June 26 before the bench, as voices from the state had dubbed the incident as police brutality.
The Madurai bench of the state's top judicial body took the matter for hearing on Wednesday during which Inspector General of South Zone KP Shanmuga Rajeswaran and Superintendent of Police Thoothukudi Arun Balagopalan appeared before the bench comprised of Justices PN Prakash and B Pugalendhi through video-conferencing. Earlier, the court had ordered the Tamil Nadu Director General of Police (DGP) to appear for the hearing. However, he couldn't appear before the bench as he was attending the meeting with Chief Minister Edappadi Palaniswami.
During the hearing, the Inspector General has said to the bench that two sub-inspector connected to the matter had been suspended, an inspector was put under the waiting list, and disciplinary actions were taken against two head constables in the Sathankulam police station. Noting down the disclosure, the High Court has directed the Thoothukudi's Superintendent of Police to file a status report on the incident on June 26.
By directing the police to submit the inquest report of Judicial Magistrate, autopsy report with videography before the court's registry, the High Court has instructed the state government and the DGP to frame the policy and standard operating procedures to end the custodial deaths in the state.
Tensions have been mounting across the state from people of various backgrounds condemning the police action on the death of the father and son. The duo had died one after the other on June 22 and 23 while they were lodged under police custody. The duo was arrested on June 19 by Sathankulam police in Thoothukudi and the police alleged that they violated the lockdown norms by keeping their mobile shop open beyond the prescribed working hours.
Later, 58-year-old Jayaraj and his son 31-year-old Bennix were lodged in Kovilpatti sub-jail. On June 22nd, Bennix complained a chest pain and breathing difficulty and was taken to the local government hospital. However, he died there and hours after his demise, his father was also taken to the hospital and he was also declared dead on June 23rd and the back to back deaths had spurred huge protests in the district amid the lockdown.
The locals said that the father and son duo were thrashed by the police and they were killed under police brutality. The Tamil Nadu state traders union observed a one-day strike across the state on Wednesday to condemn the police action and by demanding justice for the deceased, they urged the government to detain the police officers responsible behind their deaths. Thoothukudi district collector said that the judicial probe has been launched to investigate the matter.
The relatives of the deceased have been protesting against what had happened to the duo and urging the state government to initiate strong action against the responsible. The post-mortem was held at the Tirunelveli Government hospital and the relatives said they won't accept the bodies until the government meets their demands and the relatives claimed that the family had lost both male members of the family.
Amid the furor-ic developments, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Edappadi Palaniswami has, on Wednesday, said that the government will be providing compensation of Rs 10 lakh each to the family of the deceased and the government would also be awarding a job for one of the family members based on the qualification. According to the reports, the State Human Rights Commission has taken the matter and issued notice to the police department and directed to submit the report within four weeks.