Tamil Nadu government issued an order on Monday, 29 June to transfer the Thoothukudi custodial death case of Jeyaraj and Beniks to the Central Bureau of Investigation.
Earlier, the Madurai Bench of Madras High Court said that they don't have an objection and will not interfere with the decision of the state government.
Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami told on Sunday that the government will request for the case to be transferred. The state is yet to issue a government order dictating the same.
The Thoothukudi police have so far only suspended three persons in connection to these deaths — Inspector Sridhar and two sub-inspectors Balakrishnan and Ragu Ganesh.
Tamil Nadu Can’t Turn Blind Eye to Police Torture: Amnesty India
“According to the 2018 National Crimes Record Bureau data, Tamil Nadu accounted for the second-highest deaths in custody. But not a single police personnel was arrested. The Tamil Nadu State government cannot continue to turn a blind eye to the torture meted out by its police officers,“ read a statement from Amnesty International India.
The statement was issued following the custodial death of 59-year-old P Jayaraj and his 31-year-old son Benniks. They were picked up for questioning by the Thoothukudi police in Tamil Nadu for keeping their shop open during the lockdown imposed during the COVID-19 pandemic. They were allegedly tortured by the police while in custody, leading to their deaths.
"The deaths of Jeyaraj and Benniks once again signal towards India's continuing failure to hold its police accountable. The poor conviction rates in cases of custodial torture and deaths have further created a climate of pervasive impunity, emboldening the police officers. This must end now,” said Avinash Kumar, Executive Director of Amnesty International India.
“Despite torture and other forms of ill-treatment being outlawed in international law for over three decades, they are still not recognised as distinct crimes under Indian law. However, courts have ruled that torture violates constitutionally guaranteed rights to life and personal liberty and that the state has an obligation to prevent it", Avinash Kumar added.
According to the NCRB, there were 790 deaths in custody in India and over 385 policemen were charged. 120 such cases were dismissed by courts after a charge sheet was filed. In all, just eight police personnel were convicted for such crimes.
'An Acute Demonstration of a Broken Criminal Justice System'
The Executive Committee (India) of the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI) said this 'murderous police assault, unending beatings and brutal torture' which caused their death is 'an acute demonstration of a broken criminal justice system and failure to effectively uphold legal protection against police abuse.'
In a statement, the committee pointed out how India is among the few countries who are yet to ratify the UN Convention against Torture (UNCAT).
The committee demanded that the policemen, including the Inspector of Sathankulam PS, two Sub-Inspectors, several police constables and their accomplices who were involved in the brutal torture to be arrested without delay and charged with murder.
"Without the police reforms which have been advocated by successive Police Commissions in this country which strike at the root of the abuse, cultural and institutional bias that governs the conduct of policemen at different levels, such brutal episodes will continue to happen," the statement read.
Custodial Death of Father & Son Sparks Massive Outrage in TN
The custodial death of the two men in Tamil Nadu’s Sathankulam town in Thoothukudi district has sparked massive outrage in the state over police brutality.
Questions are also being raised on the conduct of the sub-inspectors and all officials present at the police station during the incident as well as that of Sathankulam Judicial Magistrate B Saravanan.
Several people took to social media to reveal the gory details of the attack and demanded justice.