Thiruvananthapuram: The state cabinet decided to hand over the case related to the unnatural death of Ranjith Kumar at Pavaratty in Thrissur while he was in excise department’s custody to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).
The cabinet that met here on Wednesday also decided that hereafter all custodial deaths in the state — be it the custody of police or excise — will be handed over to the CBI. Top government sources said that the logic is that when such deaths occur, a convincing and impartial investigation would be possible only when the matter is investigated by an agency which is out of the control of the state government. Also, such a move will serve as a deterrent for rogue police officers who continue with third-degree methods despite several warnings.
Kumar, a native of Tirur in Malappuram, was taken into custody by the excise officials for ganja peddling and he died while in custody. Excise commissioner S Aananthakrishnan had suspended eight excise personnel, including three preventive officers, four civil excise officers and one driver, all of whom have been booked by the police for the death of Kumar.
The government had, in August this year, decided to request the CBI to take up the probe in Nedumkandam custodial death. The decision to refer the case to the CBI was taken by the cabinet on Wednesday. The case was being probed by the state crime branch. Rajkumar, 49, died on June 21 at Nedumkandam police station in Idukki after three days, succumbing to the internal injuries after torture by the police in police custody.
Though the state government has decided to hand over the cases, the decision is not binding on the agency, and it is up to the agency whether to take up the probe or not.