Justices MS Ramesh and Anand Venkatesh conducted an inspection of the crime scenes to understand the topography. They surveyed the gates and the CCTV locations in the temple, after which they visited the railway track where Gokulraj’s body was found.

Gokulraj against the backdrop of HC
news Court Monday, January 23, 2023 - 14:19

Justice MS Ramesh and Justice Anand Venkatesh of the Madras High Court, on Sunday, January 22, inspected the railway track in Tamil Nadu’s Namakkal district where the body of Dalit youth Gokulraj, abducted and murdered in 2015 for interacting with an upper-caste female classmate, was found. The judges also visited the Tiruchengode Arthanareeswarar temple where Gokulraj was last seen along with the woman before he went missing. S Yuvaraj, founder of the caste-outfit Maveeran Theeran Chinnamalai Gounder Peravai, and nine others were found guilty of murdering him by a sessions court on March 8, 2022.

In August 2022, Gokulraj’s mother Chitra filed an appeal before the Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court challenging the sessions court acquitting five persons – Shankar, Arul Senthil, Selvakumar, Thangadurai, and Suresh – who were initially booked in the case along with the others. There were also appeals from the convicts challenging their conviction and sentences.

Read: The murder which shook Tamil Nadu: Gokulraj’s death to Yuvaraj’s surrender, all you need to know

While hearing the appeals, Justices Ramesh and Venkatesh decided to visit the crime scenes to understand the topography of the areas. They inspected the exit and entrance gates, as well as the eight CCTV camera locations in the temple. After the temple premises, the judges inspected the railway track at Pallipalayam from where the body of Gokulraj with his head severed was recovered.

The immediate provocation for the abduction and murder was that Gokulraj visited the temple with his classmate Swathi, who was from the Gounder caste. Swathi, the prime witness in the case, later turned hostile in court and refused to recall what happened at the temple. The Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court initiated suo moto criminal contempt of court proceedings against Swathi on November 30, observing that she made false statements on oath and interfered with the administration of justice.

Read: Prime witness in Dalit youth Gokulraj murder recalled by HC, continues to be hostile

Lawyers and family members of both Gokulraj and Yuvaraj were present at the inspection premises but they were not allowed to meet the judges. Speaking to reporters, Bhavani B Mohan, the lawyer representing Gokulraj, said that there was sufficient evidence in the case pointing to the abduction and murder and that there was no chance that the verdict would be reversed through the appeal.

(With IANS inputs)

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