SIVAGANGA: Four years after the murder of three SC men at Kachanatham in Sivaganga, a special court in the district on Friday imposed life sentences on 27 persons belonging to a caste Hindu community. The Special Court for Exclusive Trial of Cases under SC/ST (POA) Act, which had found the persons guilty on Monday, refrained from awarding a death penalty to the convicts and said: “The brutal assault could not be viewed lightly. Without taking steps to reform the accused and bring them into the mainstream, taking 27 lives by hanging would be viewed as more horrible in a civilised society.”
Sessions Judge (FAC) G Muthukumaran, who pronounced the judgment, said the court had taken into account various factors, including advanced age of some of the accused; gender; age of their school-going children, while imposing three life sentences, three three-year terms, three five-year terms, one seven-year term and a fine on them. The court added that the sentences would run concurrently.
It recalled the words of Justice VR Krishna Iyer and said that except in an act committed against the safety and security of the nation or in a case involving rape, offenders in all other cases must be given an opportunity to reform in prison. The strength of the nation lies in living in unity and everyone shall avoid flaunting of their caste pride, the court said, adding that political organisations promoting caste feelings must be banned.
The court ordered a fine amount of Rs 13.28 lakh to be equally distributed among the legal heirs of the deceased — K Arumugam, A Shanmuganathan, V Chandrasekar and , who was injured in the attack and later died.
Victim’s kin to move HC seeking death penalty
THE court also asked the District Legal Service Authority to grant further relief to the kin under the victim compensation scheme. Special public prosecutor P Chinnaraja, who later addressed reporters, welcomed the judgment but said the kin of the victims might move the high court seeking death penalty for the accused. In May 2018, Arumugam, Shanmuganathan and Chandrasekar were hacked to death by members of a caste Hindu community in Katchanatham village.
Five other SCs -- Sugumaran (23), Malaisamy (50), Dhanasekaran (32), Maheshwaran (18) and Deivendran (46) -- were seriously injured in the attack during which several houses were ransacked. It was a dispute between the two communities over the bestowing of temple honours that led to the violence. On Monday, the special court found 27 out 33 accused in the case guilty under various Sections of IPC and the SC/ST Act. Of the other six, two had died during the trial. While one of the accused -- Sullan Karupaiah -- is still absconding, three others are juveniles.
A split case against the four is still pending and their trial will be held separately. The 27 convicted: C Suman (23), C Arun alias Arunkumar (21), M Chandrakumar (47), P Akkini alias Akkiniraj (20), E Rajesh alias Rajeswaran (22), P Ilaiayaraja (23), P Kanith alias Kanithkumar (19), P Karuppuraja (29), P Michael Muniyandi (30), M Ottakulathan alias Muniyandi alias Kandhasamy (40), G Ramakrishnan (19), C Meenakshi (40), S Selvi (37), M Karuppaiah (29), M Suresh Kumar (39), K Chinnu (67), C Chellammal (65), T Muthaiya alias Muthuservai (60), O Muthuselvam (20), E Mutheeswaran alias Muthumuneeswaran (25), B Ramachandran (38), A Mayasamy (31), S Ravi alias Mukilan (23), C Ravi (34), J Arul Naveen (19), K Tavard alias Karthick (19) and P Mattivayan(21). On Friday, only S Ravi (23) was produced before the court from Tiruchy Central Prison, while the other 26 attended through videoconference from Madurai Central Prison.
Trial of four accused pending
A split case against four of the accused is still pending. While one of the accused — Sullan Karupaiah — is still absconding, three others are juveniles. Their trial will be held separately.