The Madras High Court on Wednesday confirmed the death sentence imposed by a trial court last March on a coconut plucker, now 28, for having raped and brutally murdered a 20-year-old college girl by chopping off her limbs at Suruli falls in Theni district on May 14, 2011. The convict had also hacked the victim’s lover to death before raping her.
A Division Bench of Justices R. Subbiah and B. Pugalendhi confirmed the lower court order after observing that though there were mixed opinions on imposition of capital punishment, a majority in the country wanted the judicial system to deal the offenders of rape and murder with an iron hand and without showing any sympathy or mercy to them.
“They also want the judiciary to take note of the plight and trauma that would have been undergone by the families of the victims,” the judges said and agreed with State Public Prosecutor A. Natarajan that the present convict T. Kattaivellai alias Dhivakar should be necessarily hanged for having committed a “gruesome, inhuman, barbaric and heinous” offence.
“We are shocked by the savagery of the offence unleashed by the accused towards the deceased 1 and 2 in this case. Such conduct of the accused would only show that he is an extremist and that he will be a menace to the society… Such a person will deserve no leniency or sympathy and he should be punished without any impunity,” the judges said.
According to the prosecution, the convict was roaming near Suruli falls on the day of the incident with a machete in his hand and demanding couples over there to part with their money and jewels. When the lover of the college girl confronted him, he hacked the youngster with two heavy blows on his neck using the machete.
Evidence from the scene of crime suggested that the girl attempted to escape, but he chased and snatched her gold chain. Later, she was raped and done to death by severing her hands and legs. After the crime, the convict fled the place after taking away her chain, handbag and lunch box. All these materials were later recovered from him by the police.
When the deceased did not return home on the day of the incident, their parents went on a frantic search and discovered that they were in love with each other. This led to a presumption that the couple might have eloped. However, their death came to light only after a teal stall owner near Surili falls alerted the police about a two-wheeler parked near his shop.
Consequent inquiry revealed that the motorcycle belonged to the girl’s lover and thereafter the officials stumbled upon their bodies after launching a search into the forests. The convict was arrested on the basis of evidence adduced by a host of witnesses including toll plaza staff near the forest area and he reportedly confessed to have committed the crime.
Authoring the judgement, Justice Subbiah held that though there was no eye-witness to the crime, the prosecution had unerringly proven the guilty of the accused through a complete chain of circumstantial evidence including the last seen theory, arrest, confession, recovery, DNA test, test identification parade and adverse inference against the accused.
Therefore, there was absolutely no necessity to interfere with the conviction and sentence imposed by the Principal District and Sessions Court in Theni on March 7, 2018, the Bench held. The judgement was passed on a reference made by the Sessions court, under Section 366 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, for confirmation of the death sentence.