V. Shankar, a final year mechanical engineering student belonging to a Scheduled Caste, was hacked to death on March 13, 2016 for having married his collegemate C. Kowsalya belonging to Thevar (OBC) community.
The Madras High Court on Tuesday completed hearing arguments on appeals by six death convicts, one life convict and another imprisoned for five years, in the sensational 2016 Udumalpet Shankar murder case.
Justices M. Sathyanarayanan and M. Nirmal Kumar also wrapped up hearing an appeal by the State against the acquittal of three more accused by the trial court from what is perceived to be one of the most horrific caste killings in the State.
According to the prosecution, V. Shankar, a final year mechanical engineering student belonging to a Scheduled Caste, was hacked to death by an armed gang on March 13, 2016 for having married his collegemate C. Kowsalya belonging to Thevar (Other Backward Class) community. The crime was committed reportedly at the behest of the woman’s father B. Chinnasamy, mother C. Annalakshmi and maternal uncle P. Pandidurai, who had hired contract killers.
The Principal District and Sessions Court in Tiruppur had acquitted the woman’s mother, maternal uncle and one of the alleged hitmen, V. Prasanna alias Prasannakumar, from all charges on December 12, 2017. It, however, awarded death sentence was awarded to as many as six convicts including the woman’s father, his friend P. Jagatheesan and other assailants M. Manikandan, P. Selvakumar, P. Kalaithamilvaanan alias Tamil alias Kalai and M. Mathan alias Michael.
Two members of the gang K. Dhanraj alias Tamil alias Stephen Dhanraj and M. Manikandan were ordered to undergo imprisonment for life and five years respectively.
After pronouncing the verdict, the Sessions Court referred the matter to the High Court, as required under the CrPC, for confirming the death sentence imposed by it. After the reference, The convicts too filed individual appeals assailing their conviction and sentences.
Further, the State also appealed the acquittal of the three accused. Hence, all the appeals as well as the referred trial cases were clubbed together.
Effective hearing on the batch of cases began in February 2019 and the judges continued to list the cases at regular intervals almost every month. The hearing was conducted even through video conferencing since one of them had to go to the Madurai Bench of the High Court in the meantime.
The marathon arguments ended on Tuesday with senior counsel A.R.L. Sundaresan attempting to make a dent in the prosecution case by canvassing many supposed loopholes in the theory put forth by the police.
The judges directed the counsel to submit their written arguments on February 27 so that the judgment could be reserved.
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