MEDIA TRIAL SHOULD NOT MISINTERPRET THE PROCEEDINGS (OR) OBSERVATIONS OF THE COURT DURING TRIAL- MADRAS HC

Keeping in mind the effect of a “media trial” on the prosecution as well as the accused, the Madras High Court while hearing its suo motu cognizance in the recent horrifying custodial deaths of a father-son duo in the state has appealed to the members of Print, Visual and Social Media not to “misinterpret the proceedings (or) observations” made during the course of trial. The bench comprised of Justices M. Sathyanarayana and P. Rajamanickam.

“The Sathankulam police are taking advantage of the fact that the investigation of the case is in limbo and are attempting to cause disappearance of evidence”, the bench had observed on June 30. Another DB had then expressed its shock that “In fact, they (the police personnel) were emboldened enough to even intimidate the judicial officer to put spokes in the wheel of his enquiry”. The bench was informed that in pursuance of the directions passed on an earlier occasion, Mr.Anil Kumar, Deputy Superintendent of Police, CBCID, Tirunelveli, had taken over the investigation and registered two cases against the Sathankulam policemen for the alleged commission of the offences under Sections 302, 342 and 201 I.P.C.

On Thursday, the arrest of 8 police officials attached to the alleged crime has been effected- (1) Mr.Raghu Ganesh, Sub Inspector; (2) Mr.Balakrishnan, , Sub Inspector; (3) Mr.Murugan, Head Constable; (4) Mr.Muthurajan, Police Constable, (5) Mr.Sridhar, Station House Officer, Sathankulam Police Station (6) Mr.Pauldurai, Special Sub Inspector, (7) Mr.Samidurai, Head Constable; (8) Mr.Vail Muthu, Police Constable; (9) Mr.Chelladurai, Police Constable and (10) Mr.Thomas Fransous, Police Constable.

Mr. Kumar informed the bench that “Steps have already been taken to get their police custody before the expiry of initial period of remand of 15 days”. The case was transferred to CBI and the ASG informed the bench that the central probe agency had registered two separate cases under Sections 176 (1-A) (i) Cr.P.C. Also, Mr.V.K.Sukla, Additional Superintendent of Police, CBI, had been nominated as Investigating Officer and a team of CBI officials headed by him started the investigation at Sathankulam Police Station.

Accordingly, the bench ordered Mr.Anil Kumar to file a status report as to the investigation carried out so far in a sealed cover before this Court on the next date of hearing. “CBI while investigating the two cases registered, shall take into account, the materials collected by CBCID so far, for the purpose of carrying out the effective and quality investigation”, ordered the court, adding that if it feels that custodial interrogation of any of the accused is required, it may take appropriate steps in accordance with law.

Finally, the bench directed that the Investigating Agency either CB-CID or CBI, within fifteen days of remand should file applications persons before the jurisdictional Magistrate for getting police custody of the arrested as per under Section 167 Cr.P.C.

Order No.– Suo Motu W.P. (MD) No.7042 of 2020

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