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New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Tuesday declined to grant bail to two police officers accused in the custodial death case in which trader Jayaraj and his son Bennix were killed in Sathankulam of Tamil Nadu’s Tuticorin.
A bench of Justices Vineet Saran and Dinesh Maheshwari declined to grant bail, observing that relief “cannot be granted at this stage”, Bar and Bench reported.
On June 18, 2020, Jayaraj and Bennix were brutally beaten by four Tamil Nadu police officers for allegedly violating lockdown rules imposed by the state government. They died a few days later in a hospital.
The police had claimed that the victims had hurled abuses at them and they had inflicted injuries on themselves by rolling on the floor. However, several eyewitnesses and the victims’ lawyers denied these allegations and claimed the police was trying to cover up the incident.
According to the report, they were tortured and sexually assaulted inside the police station, leading to their deaths.
The case had sparked outrage over police brutality in the state. More than 1,000 people took to the streets to demand justice. Twitter users protested against the incident by running #JusticeForJayarajAndFenix. Trader union bodies, various political outfits and activists staged protests in various parts of Sathankulam condemning the incident.
Bennix owned a small mobile phone shop in Sathankulam town in Tamil Nadu’s Thoothukudi district. On June 18, Bennix had kept his shop open until around 8:15 pm and the policemen on patrolling duty had pulled him up for crossing the deadline. According to Indian Express, an argument ensued between the police and Bennix.
A day later, the policemen visited the shop again and had an argument with Jayaraj. They then took him to the police station soon after. When Bennix found out, he rushed to the police station and both the father and son were booked under several sections of the IPC, including Section 188 (disobedience to order duly promulgated by public servant) and 353 (use of force to deter public servant from duty).
After a medical check-up, they were later transferred to the Kovilpatti sub-jail. As per the Indian Express, the same evening, local residents alleged that Bennix complained of chest pain and Jayaraj had high fever. Both were taken to the government hospital, where Bennix died on June 23 and Jayaraj succumbed to respiratory illness the next day.
According to NewsClick, there are a total of nine accused in the case facing murder charges.
The investigation into the case was earlier being handled by the Crime Branch-Criminal Investigation Department (CID), but later, it was handed over to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).
The bail plea claimed that the duo died due to heart ailments, and not injuries at the police station. Additional solicitor general K.M. Natarajan, appearing for the CBI, said the forensics report clearly established that the duo died due to blunt injuries. Senior advocate Indira Jaising, appearing for the wife of the deceased Jayaraj, said two women police constables who had testified against the accused persons are yet to be examined by the trial court, and hence there is a likelihood that if bail is granted to the accused, the trial may collapse.