The government of Tamil Nadu, on Monday, transferred the investigation into the custodial deaths of Jayaraj and Bennix to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI). After Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu Edappadi K Palaniswami announced on Sunday that the case will be transferred to the CBI, the government order allowing the transfer was issued on Monday.
“The Director-General of Police has requested the government to issue orders transferring the cases in Kovilpatti East Police Station…. to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), in order to facilitate a free and fair investigation,” the order stated.
The order also mentioned that the Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court had said that it is the policy decision of the state to transfer the case to the CBI. Based on these observations, the order was issued on Monday by the SK Prabakar, the Additional Chief Secretary, to the government.
Meanwhile, the state police have taken action against three policemen who were pulled up by the Madras High Court -- Additional Superintendent of Police (SP) D Kumar, Deputy SP Prathapan and Constable Maharajan. The ADSP and the DSP have been transferred out of their posts and placed on waiting list while the constable has been suspended from his post.
An order issued by the court on Monday said that the ADSP and the DSP were present in the Sathankulam police station during the inquiry by the Kovilpatti Magistrate and the other policemen were taking videos of the inquiry on their phones, in the presence of the two senior police officers. When the Magistrate asked for records to be produced, constable Maharajan made a ‘very disparaging remark in Tamil to the learned Magistrate’. The Thoothukudi SP also ordered that 26 policemen in Sathankulam police station be transferred and appointed 26 new police personnel in their place.
The Sathankulam police had arrested Bennix and Jayaraj on June 19 for violating the lockdown orders by allegedly keeping their mobile phone store open beyond the time permitted by the district administration. Four days later, their family was informed that Bennix and Jayaraj died at the Kovilpatti Government Hospital on June 22 and June 23 respectively. Following this, their friends, who witnessed the arrest of the duo, and family alleged that Jayaraj and Bennix were tortured while in police custody and hence they died.