Madurai court denies justice to victims of custodial torture and death — policemen acquitted

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A plea from the Tamil Nadu Dalit women Movement (TNDWM)

The Fast Track Court III, Madurai on Tuesday (24.04.2012) acquitted all the accused in a case of suspected custodial death in which K. Guruvaiah, a farmer of T. Krishnapuram near Usilampatti in Madurai district died owing to injuries following alleged police torture.

The police suspected that Angammmal a poor coolie worker and her husband had received some stolen goods from a gang of thieves. Hence on July 27, 1998, Angammmal was taken from her house in Usilampatti to the nearby police station by a nine-member police team including Inspector Mahalingam while the policemen were in search of her husband. Later in the evening, they took her to the Oomachikulam police station. Meanwhile, her husband Guruvaiah was arrested in Kodangipatti and brought to Oomachikulam police station.

Though they were innocents the police shifted the duo to different police stations in the city and tortured them. They also outraged the modesty of Angammal in the presence of her husband. In the custodial torture Guruviah suffered injuries and succumbed to the police torture on 2nd August 1998.

A complaint was lodged with the Collector. An Revenue Divisional Officer (RDO) enquiry was conducted and the report concluded that there were evidences that Guruviah died of torture and the modesty of his wife had been outraged by the police personnel. In pursuance of the report a complaint was filed against the accused policemen under Sections 147, 342, 302, 354 and 323 of the Indian Penal Code on the ground that the deceased succumbed to injuries during police custody. The nine accused policemen include an Inspector of Police and a Sub Inspector of Police.

The case was transferred from District Munsif-Judicial Magistrate, Usilampatti, to Judicial Magistrate, Andipatti, and then following a writ petition the Madras High Court on November 23, 2011, passed an order directing the Fast Track Court III to expedite the trial and complete the case before March 30, 2011.

Judge Hemalatha of the Fast Track Court III pronounced the judgment acquitting all the men in uniform in a case which almost took 14 years, citing lack of evidences and material facts. Delivering the verdict, Judge Hemalatha said there were loopholes and doubts and prosecution had not proved the case beyond doubt. What kind of evidence that the court wants? The court has the discretionary power either to consider the direct evidences and the indirect evidences.

The judgment is all the more painful to Angammal who lost her husband and faced the cruelty of sexual violence. The judgment is clearly a murder of justice. The RDO enquiry clearly brought out the facts behind the cruelty. In spite of the same the judiciary clearly let off the corrupt police to get away with the crime. The law keepers acted as law breakers and got away with the crime. Is it only temporary? The special Public Prosecutor has assured that they would go for an appeal in the High Court challenging the judgment. This is gives a glimpse of hope that justice will be upheld and the perpetrators will be punished.  

TNDWM demands that the police responsible for the custodial death and custodial torture are punished. TNDWM makes an appeal for joining in hands for justice by sending Fax to the Chief Minister, Home Minister and the Governor.

  1. The Honorable Home Minister of India
    Ministry of Home Affairs, North Block,
    Central Secretariat, New Delhi – 110 001
    Phone: 011 – 23092011, 23092161
    Fax    : 011  – 23093750, 23092763
    email: websitemhaweb@nic.in

  2. The Honorable Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu
    Secretariat, St. George Fort,
    Chennai, India 600009
    EPBX : 91-44-25665566
    Fax : 2567 8956
    E-Mail : assembly @ tn.gov.in

  3. The Honorable Governor of Tamil Nadu
    Raj Bhavan
    Chennai – 600 022
    Phone  : 044 – 22351313
    Fax No: 044 – 22350570
    E mail  : Governor @ nic.in

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