The Madras High Court today modified to life imprisonment the death sentences awarded to two youths by trial courts in murder cases but made it clear that both should serve a minimum of 25 years jail term and not be given remission or commutation under any circumstances before that.
A bench comprising justices R Sudhakar and P N Prakash passed the orders on petitions by the state for confirmation of the capital punishment and appeals by the convicts, in their early 30s.
The bench in separate but similar orders upheld the conviction of the two men, including an engineering graduate, but ruled that both the cases did not fall under the ‘rarest of rare’ category warranting the death sentence and modified them to life terms.
However, it ordered that both the convicts should undergo a minimum of 25 years imprisonment and should not be given remission or commutation under any circumstances.
In the first case, related to the murder of pawn broker Gunaram in Sakthi Nagar in Tiruvallur district on April 14, 2012, the court upheld the conviction of Ramajeyam, an engineer and modified the death sentence to life.
It also ordered that the two sentences of 10 years each on different counts shall run consecutively and not concurrently as ordered by the trial court. The life term would start after completing the sentence of 20 years.
It observed there was force in the submission of public prosecutor Shanmuga Velaudham that Ramajeyam had committed the offence in a cool, calculated and gruesome manner.
“Keeping in mind the macabre nature of the crime, we are of the view that the sentences imposed on the accused should run consecutively and not concurrently,” it said.
The other case related to the murder of a woman in Maduravoyal here in February 2011. The accused Muthuselvan had killed her for jewels and hid her body in a freezer in his provision shop.
On being found guilty, he was sentenced to rigorous imprisonment for a period of three years and seven years in addition to death sentence.
The bench said the mitigating circumstances in the present case outweigh the aggravating circumstances and, therefore, taking a ‘humanist approach’, it deems it fit to modify the death penalty to one of imprisonment for life.
“But we direct that the appellant shall not be released unless he completes 25 years of actual imprisonment without any statutory remission or commutation,” the judges ruled.
( Source – PTI )