- MADURAI: Observing that whenever someone suffers an unnatural death, the circumstances that led to it will have to be unearthed as dead persons are also entitled to justice, the Madurai Bench of Madras High Court gave certain directions to ensure the same.
The directions were issued by Justice GR Swaminathan after detecting certain discrepancies in the first postmortem conducted on a Peraiyur youth, who allegedly committed suicide due to police torture. The directions pertain to the correct manner in which autopsies ought to be conducted, especially in cases of custodial death.
The judge said that the judicial magistrate conducting inquiry in such cases must ensure that the autopsy does not commence before the deceased’s family or its representatives get a chance to see the front and back of the body and take photos or videos if they want.
An autopsy should be performed by a team of two doctors who have a master’s degree in forensic medicine and are attached to a medical college and hospital of the State, he added. Apart from following the norms recently laid down by a division bench in a 2019 case, the procedure prescribed in ‘A Textbook of Medical Jurisprudence and Toxicology’ (26th Edition) by Dr Jaising P Modi and Justice K Kannan should also be adhered to, the judge further said and extracted relevant portion of the book relating to procedure to be followed while videographing the postmortem.
‘Dead entitled to justice’
He also observed that a dead person is also entitled to justice and called it ‘posthumous justice’. The legitimacy of the State suffers a dent with every custodial death and only a transparent investigation can set right the same, he further opined and transferred the investigation into the youth’s death to CB-CID. However, he clarified that it is not his intention to cast any aspersion on the police personnel who earlier investigated the case.
The directions were given on a petition filed by one Santhosh, who is the brother of the deceased Ramesh (20). Ramesh was found hanging from a tree a day after he was taken to police station for inquiring about the whereabouts of his elder brother who had eloped with a girl. Santhosh alleged that Ramesh died due to police torture and sought re-postmortem and CB-CID inquiry.