Justice R Balasubramanian, a member of the BCCI’s “independent” panel constituted to probe charges of spot-fixing and betting, had earned the sobriquet “acquittal judge” from the legal community at the Madras High Court where he served as a judge for 10 years. He had disposed of nearly 71,000 cases during his tenure.
While it is not clear why lawyers had coined the curious sobriquet, Justice Balasubramanian was known to court an occasional controversy. One such judgment delivered by a division bench headed by him on October 5, 2001, had literally shaken the “collective conscience” of the society. The SC later overturned the verdict. The bench comprising justices R Balasubramanian and V Bhaktavatsulu had then acquitted John David, a medico convicted by a trial court to dual life imprisonment for butchering a student, Pon Navarasu, after a ragging session in his hostel room at the Annamalai University. The crime, which occurred in November 1996, had shocked the nation for its sheer brutality. David had chopped the body of Navarasu, son of then University of Madras V-C P K Ponnusamy and dumped the parts in different places. The torso was abandoned in a suitcase in a bus in Chennai.