The Madras High Court has set aside the order of conviction passed by the Principal District and Sessions Court, Tiruppur, against B. Chinnasamy, the prime accused in the 2016 'Udumalpet' Shankar murder case, and has ordered that he be released from custody forthwith.
Chinnasamy (A1) was the prime suspect in the honor killing of Shankar, an engineering student belonging to the Scheduled Caste [SC] Community, who married Chinnasamy's daughter, C. Kowsalya.
Allegedly, 7 individuals, at the directions of Chinnasamy, brutally attacked on the couple near a bus stand in Udumalpet and slashed them with knives. Though the alleged instigator's daughter Kowsalya survived the attack, Shankar died.
Finding Chinnasamy guilty of criminal conspiracy and Murder, and other relevant provisions of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Amendment Act, 2015, the Trial Court had sentenced him to death in December 2017.
By way of a 327-page judgment, the HC bench of Justices M. Sathyanarayanan and M. Nirmal Kumar on Monday, acquitted Chinnasamy of all charges, including that of criminal conspiracy, and set aside the death sentence.
"The CRIMINAL APPEAL IS ALLOWED and the appellant/A1 is acquitted of all charges and the conviction and sentence imposed against the appellant/A1 by the learned Principal District and Sessions Judge, Tirupur, in SC.No.19 of 2016 dated 12.12.2017, for the offences under Sections 120[B], 302 r/w 120[B] r/w 109 IPC, 307 r/w 120[B] r/w 109 of IPC and under Sections 3[Va] of SC/St [POA] Amendment Act, 2015 are set aside and he is acquitted of all charges levelled against him," the Order states.
The court has further ordered that fine amount, if any, appropriated by the State as ordered by the Trial Court, shall be refunded to Chinnasamy.
The order has been passed in an appeal preferred by six of the eleven accused, who were convicted by the Trial Court.
As regards the appeals filed by A4-Jagatheesan, A5-Manikandan, A6-Selvakumar, A7- Kalaithamilvaanan and A8-Mathan, who were convicted for Murder, for slashing the deceased, the High Court has modified the order of life sentence.
It has been ordered that the convicts will undergo a rigorous life term, with 25 years without any right for remission.
"Conviction u/s.302 of IPC and the fine amount are confirmed. However, sentence of death awarded is modified and he is sentenced to undergo rigorous imprisonment for life with a direction that he should serve minimum period of 25 years of imprisonment, during which, he will not be entitled to any statutory remission or commutation," the order states.
"A4 to A8, who are in the Central Prison, Coimbatore, shall undergo the modified sentence now ordered by this Court. The period of incarceration undergone by them during investigation, trial and post conviction, shall be given set-off under Section 428 of CrPC," the court further clarified.
The bench also confirmed the acquittal of Chinnasamy's wife, C. Annalakshmi and her brother P. Pandidurai from the case, in appeal against acquittal prefrred by the State.
Inter alia, acquittal of Prasanna, who was allegedly a part of the unlawful assembly and was waiting on a motor cycle to facilitate the escaping of the assailants, is also upheld.
Further, the court has set aside the order of conviction passed against Dhanraj (A9), who allegedly was standing nearby, was a member of the unlawful assembly and took steps to prevent the deceased from escaping from the attack.
The court has also set aside the order of conviction against Manikandan (A11), accused of harbouring the assailants, by giving them accommodation in his house and facilitating their abscondence.
"Since this Court had acquitted A1, A9 and A11 of all the charges leveled against them, they are directed to be released forth with unless their presence/custody is required in connection with any other case/proceedings," the court ordered.
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