The agony of the Pet dog of Jayaraj and Bennix the two who were done to death in Police Custody , is seeking the spine of Justice.
The unbearable tragedy has rendered Tomy, the pet dog reared affectionately by Bennix and Jayaraj. totally drained and exhausted.
Jayaraj and Bennix were brutally tortured and killed in Police Custody by the Police officials of Sathankulam Police Station.
The disappearance/absence of the loving masters rendered Tomy totally shattered.
It is not even responding to its innate an instinctive urges like hunger and thirst and sleep.it refuses to eat or drink water or go to sleep. It keeps awake Day and night longing to have a glimpse of its beloved masters.
Tomy is not just yet another dog or a pet.
It is ,indeed, an inseparable part and parcel of Jayaraj’s family!
Precisely because of this the agony, distress and tragedy which has engulfed Tomy is raising certain profound human rights related questions and searching for the spine of justice.
How was the Custodial deaths caused?
An On the Ground Report:
Sathankulam Police claims that they registered a case against Jayaraj and Bennix as they were keeping their shop APJ Mobilesopen, violating the Corona Lockdown norms. Hence the Police claimed that they were arrested and taken to custody and they died one after another owing to certainpre-existing illnesses.
Whereas, the fact of the ground reality speaks otherwise.
*On 18.06.2020around 8.15pm the Sub- Inspector of Sathankulam Police Station Balakrishnanwas on rounds, in his Uniform. During the rounds all shops in the area including APJ Mobiles were closed.
* The fact this was vouched by an Auto Driverwho is a member of Netaji Auto Drivers Association.
* Around this time, the Auto Drivere, who was unwilling to,identify himself also saw about 15 workers standing and chatting near a shop close to APJ Mobiles.
* Noticing the group, the SUB- Inpector Balakrishnan questioned the purpose of their crowding on the road side at this hour.
*For which they clarified that they were waiting to collect their wages for the da
* Balakrishnan retorted to this and said that they are not supposed to crowd on the road at this hour and advised them to clear the place immediately and collect their wages in the morning and he left the scene.
* That was the time when Jayaraj was walking towards his shop and he saw Balakrishnan interacting with the group of workers standing near his shop.Jayaraj, out of curiosity enquired with the workers “ What the hell was Balakrishnan enquiring withthem?”
* This was over heard by a cop sitting in an Auto Rickshaw parked in the Netaji Auto Rickshaw Stand. The copconveyed theconversations to Balakrishnan over phone.
* Subsequently, a shop owner,whose shop is near Jayaraj’s, inanimously, said that
* On 19.06.2020around 7pm the Sub- Inspector Balakrishnan came in his uniform and stood in front of APJ Mobiles and on the top of his voiceshouted questioning “Who the hell was it who abused me last night?” “ “ Now I have come; I will tear the fellow apart, if he dares to come in front of me now”, he said.
* Hearing this, Jayaraj pleaded with Balakrishnan and clarified that “ “ Sir, none abused you here”. and he added “ Why should any one abuse you heresy all?”.
* When Balakrishnan was returning to the vehicle, in which he came, the cop who over- heard the conversations the previous night, prompted Balakrishnan stating that “ “Sir, it is the same guy who was just talking to you now, was the same guy who abused you last night”.
* Following this, Balakrishnan came with another cop in a vehicle and called Jayaraj to the Police Station for inquiry. Jayaraj went withthe policepolitely, without expressing any dissent.
* Hearing this, Bennix rushed to the Police Station to check the reason for taking his father to the Station and entered into a wordy duel with the cops in the Police Station,
* During the raging arguments, Bennix pushed the sub- Inspector on his chest. The SI lost his balance and fell on the ground. Moreover, the name badge pinned on the Uniform and Star pinned on shoulder also fell down, in the melee.
* Inspector Sridhar who just entered the Stationnoticing the above commotion shouted at Bennix “ How dare you manhandle a police officer?” Further he ordered the waiting cops in the Station to “bounce on Bennix with their lathis and “ treat” the fellow ( Bennix) suitably”.
*. In the meanwhile, advocates who had come to rescue the father and son were were asked to leave the Station immediately.. Four young lawyers left the Station immediately while two others continued to stay back , hesitantly.they were also focebly dragged out of the Station by the cops in the Station.
*. In short, Jayaraj’squestioning the high handed ness of the Sub Inspector Balakrishnan and the outrage of Bennix against Balakrishnan in the Station led to the brutal torture of the father and son and eventuallyled to the callous Custodial deaths.of the father and son.
* The fall of name badge and the star from the uniform of a Police Official, the symbols of authority has entailed in the fall two human lives.
This has attracted the attention and condemnation of Antonio Gueterres, the Secretary General of the United Nations and impacted the world over.
* This so because, this isn’t yet another or the usual Custodial death.
* In our experience, we have seen several instances of Custodial deaths in the guise of of Veerappan Search Operations, Naxalite Flushing Operations; Hunting of Smugglers of Red Sanders; and in the process of pressing “ massive hunt” for ordinary and hardcore criminals etc. have led to several Custodial deaths.
*. Whereas this is the first instance of Custodial deaths of an innocent father and a son who have no such criminal antecedents against them.
It has to be noted that these deaths have occurred in the wake of the infamous murder of George Floyd, an American Black by a white cop, which triggered protests, worldwide.
*. Tomy, the pet , is raising questions about the tragic deaths. of its masters are not only pertaining to the conscience of the Civil Society but have also caused a wave of ripples among Human Rights Defenders, the world over.
*. The deaths of Jayaraj and Bennix question not only the fairness of the Criminal Justice Systemfor the mass of people, it also questions the legal provisions and practices to be aadhered before. and after the arrests of any ordinary person.
*. Further, the practices of tortures in custody , in the name of eliciting information/ truth from the accused are the other related questions, raised, in this context.
The agony and sorrow of Tomy also raises certain other significant questions:
- According to the Indian Constitution (1949), Art 21 guarantees the Right to Life with Dignity to all its citizens.Custodial tortures and Custodial deaths violate the very edifice of this fundamental right. These rights cannot be denied even to those in custody.
- Criminal Procedure Code ( CrPC) h(1973)
. this defines vividly the scope of power in the Police Department at the time of arrests. At the same time, it deals with the procedures to be adhered fo ensuring the safety and security of those who are arrested. In the instance case, while the Police exercised its authority, it failed to protect the interests of the accused/arrested.
- DK Basu vs Govt. of West Bengal
*. In view of the increasing Custodial Deaths, an Executive Director of an NGO at West Bengal drew the attention of the Supreme Court, by way of a letter seeking proper guidelines to be followed by the Police, at the time of arrests.
*. The Supreme Court entertained the letter as a Writ Petition under the Public Interest Litigationon 09.02.1987.
*. On the basis of this, the Supreme Court gave an historical judgement on 18.12.1996.
*. This judgement listed eleven important guidelines as mandatory at the time of arrests. * Particularly, it is necessary that the arrested must be allowed to meet his Advocate/ Legal Counsel.
* It is also mandatory that each Police station shall display tall the eleven guidelines in local languages, conspicuously..
* We wonder how many of the Police Stations in Tamil adhere to these guidelines.
Supreme Court alone should call for the details and make it public.
- The Legal Loopholes through which the Police Department escape:
* The Criminal Procedure Code defines the procedures related to arrests.
* According to Cr P C Section 46(1), if a Police Official wants to arrest a person, and if he explains the reason for the arrest to the accused, the accused should concede to the arrest openly. If the accused doesn’t concede and refuses to get arrested, then the Police Official is at liberty to physically take the accused. Further, the Police Official can bound the accused and get him incarcerated, suitably, to prevent the accused from escaping.
* According to Section 46(2 of the CrPC, if the accused to be arrested resists his arrest forcibly and tries to prevent the arrest violently or attempts to escape from the clutches of the Police, the Police is empowered to deploy reasonable force to detain the accused.
* However, in accordance with Section 46(3) of CrPC, if the accused to be apprehended has not caused any offence which warrants Life Sentence or Death Sentence, the Police has no authority to use excessive force , which entails in the death of the accused.
* In other words, if the accused is I suspected to have committed an offence which would attract Life/Death Sentence and if the suspect attempts to escape from the custody, the Police is empowered to stop the accused from escaping by any means, including causing death.
*. The aforesaid Sections of the CrPC are the existing Police Laws, in practice.
*. Custodial tortures, Custodial deaths and Planned Encounter Deathsare on the increase continuously as the Police take over under the above provisions of CrPC.
*. Unless effective amendments to the above CrPC provisions are brought in force prevention of Custodial tortures/ deaths and fake Encounter deaths will remain a mirage.
- The Hospitals, the Jails and the Judiciary serve as puppets of Police Department
* The moment one is arrested he should under go Medical checkup in authorised hospital and should obtain a medical certificate with regard to his physical/ medical conditions. For detention and the accused has to be produced before a Judicial magistrate with the medical report, particularly when there are apparent injuries caused to the accused.
* Only after the Judicial Magistrate is satisfied with the medical report the accused can be remanded for custody.
* This essential procedure is never observed in 99% of the cases or hardly observed.
* In the case of Jayaraj and Bennix, the father and son who were brutally tortured and suffered fatal injuries. ( Both were bleeding incessantly from their rectumentailing in changing of their lungis several times)
* If the medical doctor who examined their plight had given a factual report about their conditions, both could have been admitted at Thoothukudi Government Hospital and could have saved their lives.
* Its a tragedy that the wrong Medical Report issued by a woman doctor entailed in the death of two able bodied men and deprived their family support of any men folks!
* It is sad that even the Judicial Magistrate blindly signed the papers produced by the Police without verifying the facts.
*. Kovilpatti Sub-Jail authorities also failed to look at the medical conditions of the two who ere brought with bleeding injuries.. Had the Kovilpatti Subjail authorities noticed the dire medical conditions of the two they could have been at least could have been taken to the Kovilpatti Government Hospital, who chaired could have saved the life of the two.
* Thus the two who were in precarious medical condition could have been saved if the medical doctor who issued the first report or the Judicial Magistrate or the Jail Authorities had observed their rudimentary duties faithfully, instead of aping the Police and instead of being callous and indifferent to the accused.
*. This is just an instance whichexemplifies how the Hospital/ Jail Authoritiesand even Judicial Magistrates serve as puppets of the Police Department denying the rights of the arrested.
- Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR):
*. UDHR came into effect from 10th December 1948.
*Art 5 of UDHR declares that “ no one shall be subjected to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment “
*. Police torture, oppression and indecent methods perpetrated by the Police Department is in violation of the above said Declaration of UDHR, wherein India is a Signatory.
*. Moreover, India is also a signatory in the United Nations Convention Against Torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.
*. Similarly, India is also a signatory in the United Nations Convention on Enforced Disappearances.
* India, while being a signatory has not formally ratified its acceptance of the above declarations.
* Only if the Police Department plunges into Prevention of Tortures, and degraded treatment metedout to the public as their Duty, only then Custodial deaths could be prevented.
*. Similarly, the Police has been entrusted with enforcement of the Law of the Land.
*. Hence, the need of the hour is to make provisions and enforce the same meticulously that the Police Department is made responsible for its violations. Only then, India can boast of holding and cherishingthe “ Rule of Law”.
*. Inspiteof 60 years of completion of the UDHR Human Rights violations, Custodial tortures and deaths are continuing, unfettered.
*. These, in fact, are global challenges.
*. Against this tide, the voice of Tomy is reverberating in all the nooks and corner of the world over.
This demands an end to the Custodial Tortures and Custodial deaths, for ever.
It demands a concrete Global Action Plan against Custodial Tortures and Custodial Deaths.
Thus the voice of the dog is also registered in the dark pages of the human society!
It is a voice against Custodial Tortures and Custodial deaths!
Compiled and written by S Mohan, Peoples’ Watch, Madurai
Rendered in English by Pon Chandran, PUCL, Coimbatore.