Justice R Balasubramanian, a member of the BCCI panel to probe charges of spot-fixing and betting, had earlier handled the shocking Pon Navarasu murder case.
Navarasu was butchered to death by John David, a medico, in 1996 after a ragging session at the Annamalai University in Chidambaram. The State government enacted an anti-ragging law after the incident.
However, the bench comprising justices R Balasubramanian and V Bhaktavatsulu had ordered John David’s release holding that “there was no sufficient and satisfactory evidence to prove beyond reasonable doubt that he committed the offence.” The bench concluded that David was innocent and was framed by circumstantial evidence.
“Many crucial links are missing... Though the offence was committed in a horrendous manner, it is hazardous to convict the accused on the basis of the evidence placed by the police… We are unable to agree with the reason assigned by the trial court while convicting the accused. Therefore, we hold that the accused is entitled to acquittal of all charges,” the bench had held.
The State government was rattled. In fact, the then Home Secretary Naresh Gupta went on record saying the government was greatly disturbed at the acquittal of an accused who was involved in a murder which “shocked the collective conscience of people.”
The J Jayalalithaa government had then promptly engaged a senior lawyer to challenge the acquittal in Supreme Court. In April 2011, the Supreme Court reversed the acquittal and held that the prosecution has established its case on the basis of “strong and cogent circumstantial evidence”. “The view taken by the High Court is totally erroneous and outcome of misreading and misinterpreting the evidence on record,” the Apex Court held.