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Coimbatore sibling murder case ends with SC upholding death penalty

The judgment comes on the same day the Lok Sabha unanimously passed the bill to amend Protection of Children from Sexual offenders Act 2012( POSCO).

Written by Janardhan Koushik | Chennai |
August 2, 2019 10:35:07 pm
coinmbatore, coimbatore rape case, supreme court, supreme court death penalty, death penalty in coimbatore rape case, indian express The bench confirmed the death sentence and said the persons who are committing the heinous crimes must be dealt with severely.

The Supreme Court on Thursday upheld the death penalty awarded to a man involved in the rape and murder of a 10-year-old girl in Tamil Nadu’s Coimbatore district in 2010. He also killed her seven-year-old brother.

The judgment comes on the same day the Lok Sabha unanimously passed the bill to amend Protection of Children from Sexual offenders Act 2012( POSCO). The bill, which was cleared by the upper house on July 24, seeks the death penalty for aggravated sexual assault on a child and severe punishments for other heinous crimes committed against minors.

On October 29, 2010, former school truck driver Mohanraj aka Mohanakrishnan, kidnapped the children of a merchant from Coimbatore. The children were picked by Mohanraj in a private van borrowed from his friend. Since the children knew Mohanraj for quite some time they boarded the van assuming they are heading to school.

On the way, Mohanraj picked up his accomplice Manoharan, a resident of Angalkurichi near Pollachi, and headed to a remote area near the Gopalasamy temple hills. The convicts then sexually assaulted the girl child and made both the children drink milk with a poisonous substance added to it. The perpetrators then threw the children in the Parambikulam-Aliyar Project canal near Pollachi in Coimbatore district and fled the spot.

The police recovered the bodies of the children and arrested both the accused. Both were booked for abduction, sexual assault, and murder.

During the custody period, Mohanakrishnan was killed in an encounter by the Coimbatore police. Then Coimbatore City police commissioner C Sylendra Babu who nabbed the criminals in quick time said the police opened fire to stop the accused from killing a police official. He called the encounter an act of self-defense.

On November 7, 2012, the trial court sentenced Manoharan to death which was later confirmed by the Madras High Court on March 24, 2014. Manoharan filed an appeal in the Supreme Court challenging the judgment. The appeal was heard by a bench of justices comprising Justice Rohinton Fali Nariman, Justice Surya Kant and Justice Sanjeev Khanna.

The bench confirmed the death sentence and said the persons who are committing the heinous crimes must be dealt with severely.

Justice Sanjib Khanna, on the other hand, dissented with the confirmation of death sentence and awarded the convict a life term without remission/commutation till natural death. He said the case doesn’t fall under the category of ‘rarest of rare cases’ and it falls under the special category of the cases. In his judgment, Justice Khanna said: “The mitigating factors in favour of the appellant are his young age, he was 23 years of age at the time of occurrence and he belongs to a poor family. He has aged parents and is a first-time offender as recorded in the judgment/order of the trial court.”

Justice Sanjeev added that the convict was not initially involved in the kidnapping and abduction and he was not the mastermind. “Mohanakrishnan (since deceased) had thought, conceived and single-handedly executed the plan to abduct children. Appellant did not join him and was with Mohanakrishnan (since deceased). Subsequently, the devil in Mohanakrishnan (since deceased) took over and he sexually assaulted and raped the small girl, while the appellant kept quiet. Later the appellant too sexually assaulted and committed rape. Thereupon, the poison was administered to the children before throwing them into the canal. The offense committed was heinous and deplorable,” he wrote.

Speaking to indianexpress.com, special public prosecutor Sankaranarayanan, who represented the prosecution in the Coimbatore sibling murder case, lauded the police and judiciary for the verdict. “This is a true investigation case. There was no direct witness to the crime, yet the police did a fabulous job with scientific assistance. The accused wrote a letter to justice confessing his crime; this doesn’t happen in most of the cases. When two lower courts deliver concurrent judgments, the sentence is unlikely to change in the appeal court. Even if the convict submits mercy petition to President, I hope there won’t be a change in Supreme Court’s judgment,” said Sankaranarayanan.

P Nirmala, the chairperson of the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights, feels as a society everyone has to ensure the safety of a child. “After nine years, the Supreme Court has delivered a fine judgment. People should understand that even soliciting a child is an offense under the POSCO act. Judgments like this will inculcate fear in the minds of the perpetrators.” Nirmala said.

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