The National Human Rights Commission on Wednesday said it has issued a notice to Tamil Nadu’s Director General of Police JK Tripathy and Thoothukudi Superintendent of Police Arun Balagopalan over the death of a father and son allegedly due to their torture in police custody in the district last month, the panel said in a tweet.
The NHRC said that the reply to the notice must include the inquest report, postmortem examination report, medical treatment record, magisterial inquiry report and health screening report of both victims. It added that the reply must be submitted within six weeks.
On June 19, the Thoothukudi Police took Jayaraj and his son Bennix into custody for interrogation as they had kept their mobile accessories shop open during the coronavirus-induced lockdown. A case was filed against them for not following the curfew under lockdown. They were later sent to the Kovilpatti sub-jail.
Relatives of the two victims accused the police of assaulting them in custody. On June 22, Bennix complained of breathing problems and was admitted to a local government-run hospital. He later died at the facility. Jayaraj, who had also been admitted due to an illness, died the next day.
The deaths led to a massive outcry in Tamil Nadu, with the Opposition Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam demanding an NHRC inquiry into them.
On June 25, the Madurai bench of the Madras High Court took suo motu cognisance of the matter. The bench of Justices PN Prakash and B Pugalendi asked the police to submit a report along with a video of the autopsy.
The Tamil Nadu government transferred the case to the Central Bureau of Investigation after approval from the High Court. On June 29, the High Court initiated contempt proceedings against Deputy Superintendent of Police C Prathapan, Additional Deputy Superintendent of Police D Kumar and police constable Maharajan after a judicial magistrate alleged that they tried to obstruct his inquiry. On June 30, the court observed that there was enough evidence to proceed against the police officers involved in the custodial death on the charge of murder.