TN Custodial Deaths: CCTV Clip Missing, Cop Turns WhistleblowerJul 1, 2020 | Pratirodh Bureau
In a fresh twist to the Sathankulam case, the judicial magistrate has submitted in his report to the Madurai Bench of Madras High Court (in Tamil Nadu) that CCTV visuals of the ‘interrogation’ of the father-son duo, who later died in custody, were erased despite there being ample space in the hard disk. The case has now been transferred to the CB-CID till the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) takes over to ensure there is no tampering of evidence.
J Jayaraj, 59, and Bennicks Immanuel, 31, were subjected to a brutal thrashing, which resulted in rectal bleeding and eventual death, according to a letter to government officials written by Jayaraj’s wife J Selvarani.
In his report, the Kovilpatti judicial magistrate said that though the hard disks of the cameras installed at the police station had 1TB storage capacity, the data was being erased automatically.
“Specifically, the footage after the day of the incident was missing,” said the report.
The judicial magistrate’s report said a woman constable, who was an eye-witness to the incident, was initially terrified to reveal the truth but then confirmed that the victims were “repeatedly thrashed by the policemen for the entire night”. The report added that blood stains were visible on the lathis and table inside the station.
Hearing the suo moto petition, the bench comprising Justices PN Prakash and B Pugalendhi said the injuries found on the bodies of the deceased and the averments in the judicial magistrate’s report — especially the statement of the woman constable — were enough to alter the case to include Section 302 (for murder) against the Sathankulam policemen.
The district collector has been ordered by the court to provide protection to the whistleblower constable.