Nearly 18 years after the death of a person in police custody, the Madras High Court on Tuesday ordered a CBI investigation into the incident and payment of Rs. 5 lakh as compensation to the victim’s wife.

The court directed the State government to pay the compensation to the woman and later recover the sum from four persons, including three police officials. A constable concerned in the case was no longer in service.

In its judgment on an appeal, a Division Bench comprising Justices Elipe Dharma Rao and N. Kirubakaran said that since the police were involved in the death and the earlier investigation had proceeded on wrong presumption ignoring the ground realities and the evidence available, it deemed it a fit case to transfer the investigation to the Central agency. A long time had passed since the death. Other materials could be collected by the investigating team since an extraordinary situation like the one in hand (where an innocent Adi-Dravida man was done to death by the police) always demanded an extraordinary relief.

In August 1995, Pandian, working as a daily wage earner in Kothawalchavadi market was picked up by police in a kidnap case filed before Kunnam police in the then composite Tiruchi district. On August 4, 1995, the VAO of Kilumathur filed a complaint with the Kunnam police stating that the body of Pandian was found hanging from a neem tree.

Pandian’s wife, Anjalam, filed a writ petition alleging that her husband was tortured and done to death by four policemen against whom prosecution should be launched. Unsatisfied with a single Judge order, she filed the present appeal.

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