MADURAI: The Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court has sought a status report from the Tamil Nadu government on what basis the Melavalavu massacre case convicts were considered for remission and whether any prior requests for premature release by other life convicts were pending when these convicts’ appeals were considered.
A Bench comprising Justices S Vaidyanathan and N Anand Venkatesh raised these questions after the copy of the Government Orders passed for the release of the convicts were produced before the court pursuant to their directions on a public interest litigation (PIL) by advocate Rathinam. The Bench permitted the litigant to amend the prayer sought in the PIL and to file additional grounds in the same. The judges also suo motu impleaded the 13 convicts in the PIL and adjourned the hearing to November 25.
During the hearing, the judges opined that the Melavalavu massacre convicts cannot be treated on a par with other murder convicts. They recalled the past observations of the court, in the appeals filed by the convicts, that the murders were committed to “terrorise the Scheduled Caste people and prevent them from contesting the Panchayat election”. However, the convicts were not punished under Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989, since the government, despite proving commission of offence under the Act, failed to move an appeal for the same, the judges noted.
The Bench raised questions whether the convicts were released on basis of seniority or any other criteria and also sought details on other life convicts’ pending remission requests before the government at the time when the GOs for the release of Melavalavu convicts were passed.
Noting that the convicts now reside in Melavalavu, the judges questioned if the government did consider the safety and security of the ‘victim community’ and the impact the release may have on the community. They also sought a reply whether the State government, before passing the orders considered the representation made by two persons -- P Rathinam (the litigant in the present case) and A Perumal of Melur -- praying to declare persons convicted under SC/ST Act ineligible for remission.
Revoke the remission, CPM urges govt
Chennai: The CPM has expressed “shock” over the release of the Melavalavu massacre case life convicts. CPM State secretary K Balakrishnan, in a statement, said: “It is shocking that the Tamil Nadu government freed the 13 people convicted for the brutal caste-based massacre. The state committee of the CPM urges the State government to revoke the remission of their sentences.”ENS