The Madras High Court Bench here on Friday directed the Central Bureau of Investigation to probe the police firing incident, which led to the death of six Dalits at Paramakudi of Ramanathapuram district, when a group went on a procession to pay homage to Dalit leader Immanuel Sekaran at his memorial on September 11.

A Division Bench of Justices K.N. Basha and M. Venugopal said it would only be appropriate to hand over the investigation to an independent agency, such as the CBI, when there were allegations against top police officials of acting in a high-handed manner and counter allegations of an unruly mob attacking the police and ransacking public property.

“Whether the police used excessive force than what was required is a matter for investigation.? This court cannot prejudge the issue on the basis of the materials placed by both sides,” the Bench said. It pointed out that a number of Dalits as well as policemen, including top officials and women, had sustained injuries in the incident and a number of vehicles were burnt down.

“A fair and unbiased investigation was very much essential in a sensitive case like the case on hand in respect of the tragic and terrific incident occurred on the fateful day,” they added. The orders were passed while disposing of a batch of public interest litigation petitions.

The Advocate-General had questioned the maintainability of the PIL petitions as none of the petitioners were victims or relatives of victims.

The Bench said: “We are unable to countenance such contention for the simple reason that all the petitioners have come forward with the plea of raising voice to protect the interest of the weaker section of the community…?It is needless to state that the petitioners can very well raise their voice to protect the interest and the rights of the oppressed sections of the society as it is their fundamental right to fight for their cause.”

However, it declined to accept a petitioner's plea for suspending from service Ramanathapuram Collector V. Arun Roy, Inspector General of Police (south zone) Rajesh Das, Deputy Inspector General of Police (Ramanathapuram range) Sandheep Mittal, Ramanathapuram Superintendent of Police Maheshwar Kaliraj, Deputy Commissioner of Police K.A. Senthilvelan and three other officials. The officials were accused of not taking sufficient preventive measures, especially when Ramanathapuram was in the grip of tension following the murder of a Dalit youth just a day before. But the judges said that they were satisfied with the swift action taken by the officials. The judge also stated that there was no necessity for passing orders with regard to the plea for compensation.