Thoothukudi Sterlite firing | CBI says it has completed further investigation and submitted a report at Madurai court


A file photograph of a police official firing at anti-Sterlite protesters in Thoothukudi in May 2018

A file photograph of a police official firing at anti-Sterlite protesters in Thoothukudi in May 2018
| Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on Tuesday, June 18, 2024, informed the Madras High Court that it had conducted a further investigation into the 2018 Thoothukudi police firing, in which 13 anti Sterlite protesters were shot dead, and filed an additional report before the Chief Judicial Magistrate (CJM) in Madurai.

Appearing before a Division Bench of Justices S.S. Sundar and N. Senthilkumar, CBI special public prosecutor K. Srinivasan said, the CJM had, on December 6, 2023 refused to accept a chargesheet filed by the investigating agency following an objection petition filed by CPI(M) former Thoothukudi district secretary K.S. Arjunan.

The objection raised then was that the CBI had filed the chargesheet only against R. Thirumalai, who was serving as an Inspector of Police in 2018, but subsequently promoted to the post of Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP), though several revenue as well as police department officials were involved in the firing.

After considering their objections, the CJM directed the CBI to conduct further investigations with regard to a series of aspects which included the need to examine carefully, the video clippings related to the entire firing incident and the need to record the statements of the officials of t-he Sterlite copper smelting plant.

The CJM had also impressed upon the the CBI the need to examine DSP Anil Kumar and Additional Superintendent of Police A. Selvanagarathinam and also scrutinise the documents prepared by the Thoothukudi district legal services authority with respect to the firing. The CBI was granted six months time to complete this further investigation.

“Within that time, the further investigation was completed and an additional report was filed before the CJM. The court is yet to take cognisance of the additional report,” Mr. Srinivasan said during the hearing of a writ petition filed by human rights activist Henri Tiphagne of People’s Watch in connection with the firing. The writ petition was filed against the closure of a complaint lodged by Mr. Tiphagne, regarding the firing, with the National Human Rights Commission.

Since the CBI reported that it had filed an additional report before the CJM, the Bench led by Justice Sundar directed the agency to submit a copy of the report before it too, by July 1.

The Bench also ordered issuance of notices to all the revenue as well as police officials who had been arrayed as respondents to the writ petition and decided to hear all of them as well as the State government at length during the next date of hearing.

The judges asked Additional Advocate General J. Ravindran to ensure that the notices were served on all the officials irrespective of their current place of work. They refused to accept his contention that the writ petitioner was trying to enlarge the scope of the writ petition by impleading those officials.

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