Cuddalore custodial death case: ‘No need for re-postmortem,’ TN govt argues in court

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The Tamil Nadu government on Tuesday denied allegations of police custodial violence made by the family of shopkeeper named Selvamurugan, who died a few days after he was taken into custody for a theft case. Responding to a petition filed by Selvamurugan’s wife Prema, the state Public prosecutor (PP) A Natarajan told the court that the man died due to a pre-existing condition of epilepsy and that the doctor who conducted the autopsy did not find any external injuries. Based on this argument, the PP stated that there was no requirement for another post-mortem, as requested by the family.

Prema, a resident of Cuddalore district, had filed a petition in the Madras High Court on November 10 and the case was heard the next day. Her husband Selvamurugan was picked up by the Neyveli police in connection with a theft case on October 28 and remanded at Virudachalam jail on November 2. She was then informed about his death on November 4, stating that he died due to seizures.

According to Prema, she visited her husband at the Neyveli police station the day he was arrested and allegedly saw injury marks on his body. She alleged that he was being forced to accept that he committed certain thefts. After his death, when Prema and her relatives saw Selvamurugan's body, they allegedly saw many wounds, including blood clots on the neck and back of the legs.

The state PP, however, argued in court that this was not a custodial death as projected by the petitioner and that 'new fabricated stories were created in this matter for political reasons'.

The state counsel alleged that Selvamurugan was caught red-handed trying to steal from a woman named Divya.

"No re-postmortem is required in this case since a team of doctors have already conducted postmortem by duly following the national human rights guidelines and the same was video graphed in the presence magistrate. The doctor who treated the deceased, Selvamurugan, stated in the accident register (medical certificate) that there is no obvious external injury on his body," the PP told the court.

The next hearing for the case has been scheduled for November 18, by which time, the state has to file a detailed counter-petition. The case is currently being investigated by the CB CID.