In light of the Jayaraj-Bennicks murder case, a PIL has been filed in the Supreme Court of the country. The PIL seeks to restrain Tamil Nadu Chief Minister, E.K. Palaniswamy from holding the portfolio until the completion of the trial. Furthermore, the PIL sought the involvement of the Crime Bureau Central Investigation Department (CB-CID) in investigating CM’s role in allegedly safeguarding the accused police officers.
The death of the father and son due to alleged custodial torture in Tamil Nadu sparked outrage across the nation. The twin death was originally registered as a routine FIR procedure to determine the cause. However, the victims’ family alleged custodial brutality at the hands of Sathankulam police. As the matter caught national attention and furore, Madras HC took suo motu cognizance of the same.
Urge for a Free & Fair Trial of Jayaraj-Bennicks Case
Advocate A Rajarajan pleaded for Apex Court’s directions so that the CM doesn’t hold the Home Ministry Portfolio; until the verdict on Jayaraj-Bennicks Murder Case is out. According to the petitioner, free and fair investigation or trial in the matter cannot be possible with Palaniswamy heading the Ministry.
The aforesaid allegations find their basis in a public statement made by the CM on June 24, 2020. It stated that the death of the father-son duo took place due to illnesses, thereby ruling out the role of the police or any foul play in the case. Citing the statement to be “highly condemnable & contrary to law”; the petitioner added that since the investigation didn’t even begin until June 30, 2020 and inquiry in the cause of death was at its preliminary stage, the remarks by CM came at an improper time. Furthermore, it argued that Palaniswamy acted in derogation of his constitutional duties and tried shielding the police officers.
To uphold his claim, the petitioner brought forth the investigation took up by Deputy Suprintendent of Police, CB-CID. Only after the said investigation on July 1, 2020 did the concerned officers alter the FIR to include charges of murder under Section 302 of IPC. Subsequently, the erstwhile Inspector and Sun-Inspector of the said station were put under arrest.
The Chief Minister, as the administrative head, has executive control over the Police. Hence, the petitioner contended that Palaniswamy reacted in an unscrupulous way to prevent any attack on the government.
The Madras HC has ordered a judicial inquiry into the victim’s deaths, under Section 176, CrPC. Therefore, Judicial Magistrate No. 1, Kovilpatti is conducting the same.