BY- JAGRATI GUPTA
Introduction: On Friday, an 18-year-old inter-caste couple murder case finally got justice through a landmark ruling of Cuddalore district special court for Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe cases which awarded capital punishment to one person and life imprisonment to 12 others responsible for the honor killing of the couple. Among the convicted persons, a former deputy suprerintendent of police and inspector was sentenced to life imprisonment.
Background of the case: The said conviction is regarding a 2003 inter-caste couple murder case. S Murugesan, a 25-year-old man was a resident of Puthucolony in Kuppanatham near Virudachalam in Cuddalore district and a member of the Dalit community. He was in love with D Kannagi, 22, of the same village who belonged to the Vanniyar community, during their time at Annamalai University. Thereafter, they tied the knot on May 5, 2003, in the Cuddalore sub-registrar office without apprising their relatives. The couple was cognizant of the fact that they can be under immense danger if the news of their marriage reached their relatives. So, accordingly, they kept their marriage a secret and decided that until Murugesan secures a job Kannagi will stay at her parent’s house but soon the parents got the knowledge about their matrimony and constrained Kannagi not to pursue this wedlock. Meanwhile, Murugesan had got a job at Tirupur and accordingly, he eloped with her wife from her parent’s house in July 2003. Kannagi’s father C Duraisami, who was a panchayat president after knowing her daughter’s elopement got ballistic and together with his elder son Marudupandian and several other of his Vanniyar relatives made thorough searches in Virudhachalam, including Murugesan’s house. Soon Murugesan got caught and the relatives tortured him into divulging the whereabouts of Kannagi who was staying at one of Murugesan’s relative’s houses. After this, the couple was tied at a public place in the Puthukkooraippettai village near Virudhachalam in Tamil Nadu and were coerced into drinking the poison, after which their bodies were burnt and cremated separately. This whole incident was witnessed by approximately 300 people. Aggrieved by the cruel murder of the couple, Murugesan’s father Samikannu lodged a complaint at Virudachalam police station. Inspector M Chellamuthu, 66, who retired as deputy superintendent of police and sub-inspector P Tamilmaran, 51, who was promoted as an inspector and suspended in a bribe case, tried to hide the honor killing and filed a case against four relatives each from both families. After seeing no progress in the case, Samikannu pleaded before the Madras High Court to transfer the case to CBI which was consequently granted.
Investigation of the matter: During the investigation of CBI, in 2009 a charge sheet against 15 people including Kannagi’s father, elder brothers, two relatives of Murugesan, DSP Chellamuthu, and inspector Tamilmaran as accused was framed. Initially, the Cuddalore district sessions court had conducted a trial in this case but soon it was transferred to Cuddalore district special court for Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe cases.
Judgment of the court: Justice S. Uthamaraja while delivering the judgment discharged the accused Murugesan’s relatives S. Ayyasamy and P. Gunasekaran as they were blackjacked into poisoning Murugesan and cremating him due to the fact that they cannot touch him as he belongs to a Dalit community. Also, the two police personnel were convicted as they not only failed to register the complaint but also supported the murderers in concealing their crime. In addition to this, former DSP Chellamuthu and inspector Tamilmaran were charged with a fine of Rs 1.15 lakh along with an order to give Rs 3 lakh each to Murugesan’s family. Judge Uthamaraja remarked, “The caste-related murders created a black mark for human society. Kannagi’s death should be the last in the land of Tamil Nadu.”