‘Motivated, planned, calculated’: What Madras HC said about Kallakurichi protests

“The protest appears to be motivated, planned and calculated. There is some force behind it,” Justice N Sathish Kumar of the Madras High Court said.
Justice Sathish Kumar against the backdrop of Madras High Court
Justice Sathish Kumar against the backdrop of Madras High Court
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Observing that the violence and riot in Kallakurichi was not an eruption because of sudden provocation but appears to be motivated, planned and calculated, the Madras High Court has said that there is “some force” the arson and violence that broke out on Sunday over the death of the Class 12 student. Justice N Sathish Kumar of the Madras High Court, on July 18, was hearing a petition filed by the parents of a 17-year-old student who died in a private school, seeking re-postmortem and CB-CID investigation. In its eight-page order, the Madras High Court has directed the police to investigate the violence and produce the violators before the court.

The death of the student in Kaniyamoor Sakthi Matriculation School at Chinnasalem of Kallakurichi on July 12, led to massive protests and arson on July 17. School buses and buildings were burnt down and were inflicted heavy damage by hundreds of violent protestors. On the night of July 17, Tamil Nadu DGP Sylendra Babu transferred the case to CBCID.

Expressing concern over the violence, the High Court said that it was of the firm opinion that such a violent protest that erupted “was not mere eruption of sudden provocation, rather, it appears to be motivated, planned and calculated. There is some force behind it.”

“This Court is of the firm opinion that in every protest, there is some group behind it and it has to be properly investigated,” the judge said and added that if it is not brought under control and the perpetrators not brought before the law, it will show as if the state is lawless. “Therefore, it is the responsibility of the State Government and police to restore the glory of the Police forces and the investigating agencies to properly identify the violators,” the court said in its order.

The court said that it has become a recent trend in the state that any unnatural death of a student in any educational institution leads to a protest, which then “forces the police to succumb to such pressure” and make quick arrests without a proper investigation.

“Whenever any unnatural death of a student occurred in any educational institutions, immediately, there is a group to protest, and force the police to succumb to such pressure, which leads to unnecessary arrest, even without proper investigation being done. Such things are recent trend not only in the unnatural death of the students in the educational institutions but also in the death of the patients in the hospitals,” the court said in its order.

The High Court then made a three-point order, including that whenever an unnatural death is reported in educational institutions, the investigation must be conducted by the CB-CID and the postmortem should be conducted with a team of three Doctors and it should be videographed. The court also said that arrests should be made only after a proper enquiry by the Education Department.

With regard to the social media messages and videos that called for justice for the student’s death, the court directed the investigating agency (CBCID) to identify those who formed WhatsApp groups and “spread false news, which resulted in such rioting situations” and said that action should be taken against them. In addition to this, the DGP was also directed to take appropriate action to identify the Youtubers, who had spread false news and conducted parallel media trials on YouTube. The police are also asked to file a status report on July 29 regarding the action taken against the accused, who have been involved in a mass destruction of the property.

The court also ordered a second post-mortem to be conducted and appointed a team of doctors – Dr Geethanjali from Villupuram government hospital, Dr Juliana Jayanthi from Trichy GH, Dr Gokularaman from Salem GH and retired Dr Santhakumar, a forensic science expert. The girl’s father and their advocate have been permitted to attend the post-mortem. The court also said that no interview should be given by the student’s family or the lawyer.

Stating that the protests projected an image as if the state is lawless, the court observed that it was the duty of the police to conduct proper investigation and book all the culprits. Since the video footage of the incident is available, identifying the accused is not difficult for the police, the court order said.

“The Director General of Police, Chennai is directed to form special teams in this regard to identify all the violators, who are captured very well in all the video footage and bring them before the Court of law,” the justice said.

The counsel of the student’s parents sought that a team of doctors of their choice should be included in the re-postmortem, but the court refused it saying that the “petitioner should have some faith in the experts and the Court.” The court also ordered that the family should receive the body of the child immediately after the postmortem and conduct the funeral in a peaceful manner.

Meanwhile, 300 accused in connection with the violence, including 20 juveniles, were produced in court on July 18.

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