Even as the Madras High Court monitored CB-CID probe into the Sathankulam father-son custodial death is under way, lack of clarity prevails as to whether the bench led by Justice PN Prakash which took suo motu cognisance of the issue would continue to hear the case or the bench comprising Justices M Sathynarayanan and P Rajamanickam who have come in place of it would start hearing it from July 6.
“Following the portfolio change, Justice Prakash will sit alone at the principal seat hearing criminal appeals including those relating to crime against women and children while Justice B Pugalendhi sitting single at the Madurai bench will hear similar such criminal appeals. Advocates point out that when it comes to protocol relating to suo motu cases, the division bench which takes such cognisance should inform the Chief Justice through a letter explaining the same. It’s for him to either allow the same bench or constitute a special bench to hear the case.
In the present instance, since Justice Prakash and Justice Pugalendhi continued to hear the case after taking suo motu cognisance, its understood that Chief Justice AP Sahi had given the nod. Hence, the bench which dealt with the suo motu case ought to hear it until the end. Moreover, with hearing transpiring via video conferencing, the presence of the said judges in two places should not be a deterrent, feel many. However, with Justice Prakash clearly indicating in his first order in the case that the investigation would be monitored by the court, that process is bound to continue irrespective of the portfolio change until the charge sheet is filed in the case.