New Delhi: In a major development in the case of alleged custodial deaths of a father-son duo in Tamil Nadu’s Tuticorin, the Madras High Court on Monday ordered three policemen-two officers and a constable-to appear before it on Tuesday after a Judicial Magistrate, in a report to the court, alleged that the trio tried to intimidate him and obstruct him as he was investigating the case. Also Read - Tuticorin Custodial Deaths: 'No Objection to State Shifting Probe to CBI,' Says Madras High Court
The court has also initiated contempt action against the three. They have been identified as DSP C Prathapan, Additional DSP D Kumar and constable Maharahajan and will appear before the court at 10:30 AM tomorrow. Also Read - Tuticorin Custodial Deaths: Singam Director Hari Condemns Jayaraj And Fenix Deaths, Says 'Regrets Making Films That Glorifies Police'
Notably, the Judicial Magistrate had been tasked by the Madurai bench of the High Court to investigate the circumstances under which 59-year-old Jayaraj and 31-year-old Bennicks died. The bench had taken suo moto cognisance of the case on June 23, after the two died within a span of hours. Also Read - Tuticorin Custodial Deaths: Tamil Nadu CM Says Will Transfer Probe to CBI After Madras High Court Nod
“You cannot do anything to us,” the Judicial Magistrate’s report quoted the constable as saying. Taking note of the ‘disparaging’ remarks by the constable, the court said that the report showed that the police administration was doing everything to stop the Magistrate from conducting the probe.
The court also asked the state government to transfer the three policemen, or else, it would be ‘very difficult’ to conduct a free and fair enquiry.
The deaths of Jayaraj and Bennicks have triggered massive outrage in Tamil Nadu. They were arrested on June 19 for keeping their shop open beyond permissible business hours amid the COVID-19 lockdown and died on June 23, a day after being released from custody.