HC commutes death sentence of Kannagi-Murugesan honor killing convict

Court acquits two convicts of all charges, overturns life sentence imposed on one and upholds it for nine

Court acquits two convicts of all charges, overturns life sentence imposed on one and upholds it for nine

The Madras High Court on Wednesday commuted to life the death sentence handed down last year by a lower court against one of the 13 convicted in the 2003 Kannagi-Murugesan honor killings case. However, it upheld the life sentences imposed on nine of the convicts, including the father of the female victim, C. Duraiswami.

A divisional bench of Judges PN Prakash and AA Nakkiran commuted the death sentence against D. Maruthupandian, brother of the deceased woman, Mr. Kannagi, while responding to a referral from the trial court and also an independent appeal which he preferred against the decision of the court of first instance. Verdict of September 24, 2021.

The bench allowed appeals favored by two other convicts, Rangasamy and Chinnadurai, and acquitted them of all charges. Additionally, they partially upheld an appeal favored by Tamilmaran, a former police sub-inspector, and overturned his life sentence. He was sentenced to just two years in prison, on lesser charges.

As for the remaining nine convicts, the judges dismissed their appeals and upheld their convictions and life sentences. The appeals had been brought against the judgment given by a special tribunal for reserved cases under the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act 1989.

Kannagi, a commerce graduate belonging to the Vanniyar community (most backward class), fell in love with Murugesan, a chemical engineering graduate belonging to a scheduled caste, while they were studying at Annamalai University, Chidambaram. They married quietly and registered their marriage in Cuddalore on May 5, 2003.

Kannagi’s family in Puthukkooraippettai village of Cuddalore district were furious to learn of the marriage and decided to terminate the inter-caste couple. Although several such crimes have been reported in the state before, the term “honour killing” was first used here in reference to this case.

According to the prosecution, the couple were forced to consume poison at the village cremation ground on July 8, 2003 and their bodies were burned to make it look like a case of suicide. After a botched investigation by the local police, the High Court transferred the investigation to the Central Bureau of Investigation, at the request of Murugesan’s father, Samikannu.

Although an indictment was filed in 2009, the legal proceedings dragged on and finally, last September, the Cuddalore Special Court imposed the death sentence on the victim’s brother and life imprisonment on 12 others. people, including his father. Activist lawyers P. Rathinam, V. Suresh and others led the case to ensure justice for the victims.

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