|They have committed the murder in an inhuman way only for political career: judge|
The bus that was set on fire in February 2000 near Dharmapuri resulting in the death of three women students. — File Photo: By Special Arrangement
SALEM: Holding the causing of death of three young women in a bus-burning incident near Dharmapuri in Tamil Nadu in February 2000 as the "rarest of the rare" crime, a court here on Friday awarded capital punishment to three men, all activists of the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK). Twenty-five others are to undergo rigorous imprisonment for seven years.
First Additional District Sessions Judge D. Krishna Raja cited Section 302 (murder) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) in sentencing to death Nedu alias Nedunchezhian, Madhu alias Ravindran and C. Muniappan.
The three were also found guilty under Section 307 (attempt to murder), which brought them a seven-year imprisonment and a fine of Rs. 46,000 each. They were also sentenced to imprisonment for seven years and three months, with an additional fine of Rs. 13,000 each, as they were found guilty under other sections of the IPC and the Tamil Nadu Public Property (Prevention of Destruction) Act.
Saying that the prosecution, led by Special Public Prosecutor R. Srinivasan "has succeeded in proving the offences against the accused beyond reasonable doubt," the judge sentenced the 25 others, including Accused No.1 and former AIADMK Dharmapuri union secretary D. K. Rajendran, to imprisonment for seven years and three months and a fine of Rs. 13,000 each.
They were found guilty under Sections 188 (disobedience to order duly passed by public servant), 147 (unlawful assembly), 341 (wrongful restraint), 341 read with 149 (unlawful assembly with a common object) of the IPC and 4 TNPPD Act and 3 (i) TNPPD Act read with 149 of IPC. These sentences will run consecutively. Of the 31 accused, one died during the trial, and two were acquitted.
Quoting extensively from judgments of the Madras High Court and the Supreme Court in support of the imposition of death penalty, Mr. Krishna Raja, in his 181-page verdict, pointed out that death sentence "remains in the Constitutional book and [the] Supreme Court in its celebrated decision in the Pachan Singh vs. State of Punjab case, has approved its constitutional validity."
The judge said that the world over, legal luminaries and philosophers had "scratched their heads" debating whether death sentence should be retained as punishment in the most heinous cases. "In this Dharmapuri bus burning case, only for the political career, the three accused have committed the murder in [an] inhuman way. Considering the inhuman, diabolical, ghastly action of these three, committing the murder of three innocent girls, it would be clear that this is a rarest of rare cases in which the death sentence has to be imposed," the judge observed.
Kokilavani, Hemalatha and Gayathri, students of the Tamil Nadu Agricultural University, were burnt alive when a mob set their college bus on fire at Ilakkiampatti during protests against the conviction by a court of AIADMK leader and former Chief Minister Jayalalithaa in the "Kodaikanal Pleasant Stay Hotel case."
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