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HC commutes death sentence of Kannagi-Murugesan honour killing convict – Mrit News

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Court acquits two convicts of all charges, sets aside life sentence imposed on one and confirms it for nine

Court acquits two convicts of all charges, sets aside life sentence imposed on one and confirms it for nine

The Madras High Court on Wednesday commuted to life the death sentence imposed by a trial court last year on one of the 13 convicts in the 2003 Kannagi-Murugesan honour killing case. However, it confirmed the life sentence imposed on nine of the convicts, including the woman victim’s father, C. Duraiswami.

A Division Bench of Justices P.N. Prakash and A.A. Nakkiran commuted the death sentence awarded to D. Maruthupandian, brother of the deceased woman, M. Kannagi, while answering a reference from the trial court and also an independent appeal preferred by him against the trial court’s September 24, 2021 verdict.

The Bench allowed appeals preferred by two other convicts, Rangasamy and Chinnadurai, and acquitted them of all charges. Further, they partly allowed an appeal preferred by Tamilmaran, a former Sub-Inspector of Police, and set aside his life sentence. He was sentenced to only two years in prison, on lesser charges.

With respect to the remaining nine convicts, the judges dismissed their appeals and confirmed their conviction as well as life sentence. The appeals had been preferred against the judgment passed by a special court for cases booked under the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act of 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, when they were studying at Annamalai University in Chidambaram. They got married discreetly and registered their marriage in Cuddalore on May 5, 2003.

Kannagi’s family in Puthukkooraippettai village of Cuddalore district were furious on learning about the marriage, and decided to do away with the inter-caste couple. Though several such crimes had been reported in the State previously, the term ‘honour killing’ was used for the first time here while referring 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 burnt to make it appear as though it was a case of suicide. After a botched investigation by the local police, the High Court transferred the probe to the Central Bureau of Investigation, at the instance of Murugesan’s father Samikannu.

Though a charge sheet was filed in 2009, the trial proceedings took a long time and, finally, in September last, the Cuddalore special court imposed capital punishment on the woman victim’s brother and a life sentence on 12 others, including her father. Activist-lawyers P. Rathinam, V. Suresh and others conducted the case to ensure that justice was done to the victims.

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