Kochi: Expressing shock that police
lock-ups turn out to be `death chambers`, the Kerala High
Court Tuesday held that custodial torture of people exhibits the
"most barbarous and savage degeneration" of civilised society.
Dismissed as `mockery` the investigation by state
police into the custodial death of Sampath who died on March
29 allegedly due to torture in police custody, the court
directed the CBI to investigate the recent death of the murder
Justice V Ramkumar directed the Crime Branch to hand
over investigation to CBI when a petition by Murukesh, brother
of Sampath, seeking the probe by the central agency came up.
"Every person directly or indirectly involved in
custodial torture of Sampath, however, high he may be shall be
brought to justice," the judge said, holding that
investigation in the case turned out to be a `mockery`.
"This is an unfortunate case which tends to shake the
credibility of police investigation and undermines the faith
of common man in state police," Ramkumar observed.
"Much strain is not necessary to infer that there has
been an orchestrated attempt to shield certain officers in the
higher echelons of police and to make lower level officials
scapegoat," the court held.
"Custodial torture of helpless arrestees by the
guardian of law, who would turn out to be perpetrators of
crime, exhibits the most barbarous and savage degeneration of
civilised society," it said.
Sampath was arrested as prime suspect in the murder of
a businessman`s wife, Sheela, for gain in Palakkad. The
47-year-old woman was found murdered with her throat slit with
a sharp weapon and her 70-year-old mother Karthiyani Amma
seriously injured at their home on March 23.
Sampath and two others were taken into custody within
a few days from Coimbatore in Tamil Nadu. But before he was
produced before court, Sampath died, allegedly due to torture
during questioning. He was a former employee of the murdered
woman`s businessman husband.
There were 63 ante mortem injuries on Sampath`s body.
The state government had opposed the prayer for CBI
probe claiming that investigation was being conducted in an
effective manner. Fourteen police personnel, including a DSP
and Circle Inspector, have been arrested as accused and they
have been suspended from service. Departmental action has been
initiated against them.
Karthiyani Amma had approached the High Court seeking
to implead herself in the case.
According to her, she was also attacked by the accused
and was seriously injured. The present investigation was going
in the right direction and police has done all possible to
collect necessary evidence, it was contended.