Tuesday, December 25, 2018
Lower court’s death penalty verdict binned (Tamil Nadu)
CHENNAI , JULY 25, 2018 01:20 IST
Says no evidence to prove Manikandan murdered a four-year-old girl in Tiruvannamalai
The Madras High Court on Tuesday set aside the conviction as well as death sentence imposed by a trial court on 24-year-old P. Manikandan for having allegedly murdered a four-year-old girl child in Tiruvannamalai on June 13, 2013 due to a personal enmity with her father over repaying the loans that he had taken from him. Allowing a criminal appeal filed by the convict, a Division Bench of Justices S. Vimala and S. Ramathilagam agreed with Senior Counsel N.R. Elango that a Mahila Court in Tiruvannamalai had casually convicted and awarded capital punishment to the appellant though there was hardly any evidence to connect him with the offence.
The Bench ordered a Central Bureau of Investigation probe into the murder of the child to find out the real perpetrators of the crime within three months. If the present appellant was found to be guilty even in the second round of investigation, it would be open to the prosecution to proceed against him in accordance with law. Penning the judgment for the Bench, Ms. Justice Vimala said there was a strong dividing line between ‘may be true’ and ‘must be true’ since the former was represented by conjectures and the latter by concrete conclusions. It was not proper on the part of the trial court to have awarded death penalty by ignoring such a dividing line.
The judge pointed out that the entire case of the prosecution rested on circumstantial evidence which did not support the hypothesis “that it is only this accused and this accused alone” who committed the murder. If the trial court was agonised over the death of the child, it should have ordered further investigation instead of awarding death. “When more power is exercised, more caution is essential. Judging can be done only on the basis of legal evidence... This is a case where there is no evidence at all. Still, death penalty has been handed down in a very casual manner probably out of over enthusiasm and zeal to stray into irrelevant considerations other than those sanctioned by the highest court of the land. “Capital punishment would evoke an awe and send shock waves only when it is based on truth and evidence. It would lose its sanctity and severity when it is perverse and peddled frequently by every other trial court for fear of indictment from outside sources,” Ms. Justice Vimala observed.
Source: https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/chennai/hc-sets-aside-death-sentence-acquits-convict-of-all-charges/article24507102.ece (Accessed 25 December 2018)