Convict on Death Row Spared of Gallows

Citing failure to prove motive, judge commutes sentence

Published: 03rd March 2016 04:33 AM  |   Last Updated: 03rd March 2016 04:33 AM   |  A+A-

CHENNAI: Observing that the prosecution has failed to prove the motive for a multiple murder, the Madras High Court has modified the lower court’s order of death sentence to life term for an accused.

Applying the aggravating and mitigating doctrine in this case, a division bench of Justices M Jaichandran and S Nagamuthu reduced the sentence, while passing orders on a referred trial from the government and a criminal appeal from the accused on Wednesday.

One Selvam was a tenant in the house owned by an old woman at Ramakrishnapuram in Coimbatore. He vacated the house on May 5, 2005 and demanded the return of the advance money of Rs 8,500. The landlady adjusted the rent arrears and came to the conclusion that she owed him Rs 3,200. She also told him to collect this amount after some time. Her idea was to return the amount after collecting the advance money from the new occupant. Selvam visited the house on June 1, 2004 and demanded that the landlady return the balance amount. She told Selvam how she had planned to repay him and he left.

However, in the evening, the landlady’s daughter Vatchaladevi and her two children were found brutally murdered in the house. Following the statement of a neighbour, an eye-witness, Selvam was arrested and the local sessions judge-cum-Magalir Neethimandram awarded life imprisonments and death sentence on various counts. 

The bench observed that if the aggravating as well as the mitigating circumstances are applied to the case, what emerges is that it is not a case falling within the rarest of rare doctrine. So far as the agggravating circumstances are concerned, the prosecution has failed to prove the motive for the occurrence. But at the same time, killing of young children, who were sleeping, is brutal and gruesome. However, there are also circumstances in favour of the accused, like his age and absence of motive and the case was based on circumstantial evidence, the judges pointed and reduced the sentence.

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