The High Court has upheld the conviction of only the hired killers, and commuted their death sentence to life imprisonment of 25 years.

Sankar and Kowsalya Sankar was hacked to death in 2016 and her father Chinnaswamy was acquitted by HC
news Caste Killing Monday, June 22, 2020 - 11:28

The Madras High Court on Monday acquitted Chinnasamy, Gowsalya’s father, in the Sankar caste killing case. Sankar, a Dalit man who married Gowsalya, a Thevar woman, was murdered in broad daylight in 2016. The caste killing that took place in Udumalpet in 2016 had shaken Tamil Nadu. Sankar was attacked and left to die on the road and Gowsalya was grievously injured during the incident that was caught on CCTV camera. Gowsalya’s family – including her father – were convicted for the crime last year by a District Court, and were given the death sentence. 

On Monday, the Madras High Court bench comprising Justices M Sathyanarayanan and M Nirmal Kumar commuted the death sentence of five others in the case to a life sentence of 25 years, and also acquitted Gowsalya’s father Chinnasamy, who is said to have masterminded the crime. 

Further, the High Court upheld the acquittal of Gowsalya’s mother and two other persons. The court also set aside the conviction of two others – one person who had been given a life sentence, and another who was given a five year sentence by the District Court. 

The conviction now includes only the men who were hired to kill Sankar – Jagedesan, Manikandan, Selvakumar, Kalai Tamilvanan, Madan alias Michael. The High Court further commuted their death sentence and ordered that they should undergo a life imprisonment of not less than 25 years.

Speaking to TNM, defense lawyer ARL Sundaresan said that the prosecution did not prove conspiracy between Chinnasamy and the gang. “The video recording from a shop was relied on by the prosecution, but it was recovered after four days and it could have been morphed,” Sundaresan said. “We argued that the expert who looked at the video was not a proper one.”


CCTV visuals from the day of the crime in 2016

Chinnasamy’s lawyers also argued that the identification parade was a ‘farce’. “Identification parade was held 15 days after the murder, and by then the people arrested knew who Chinnaswamy was as they had seen him in news,” Sundaresan said. 

The lawyer also said that the defence’s case was that after the marriage, the family had accepted the truth of the wedding and they had no intention to kill Sankar.

In December 2017, the Tiruppur District Sessions Court awarded death penalty to Chinnasamy with 10 years for criminal conspiracy, and three years for other charges. He was to be hanged after completing his sentence. The verdict was delivered by Judge Alamelu Natarajan on December 12, 2017. 

"He is the father of a 19-year-old girl and he was angry with what had happened. At that point if he had not had people to execute this crime it may not have taken place. He had reason to be angry," the judge had said before sentencing Chinnaswamy.

The other accused in the case, Jegadesan, Manikandan (Palani), Selvakumar, Kala Tamilvaanan and Mathan alias Michael were also awarded 18 years imprisonment on various charges and death penalty. 

Also read: A cash deal, a hotel room and Kausalya’s words: The evidence in Sankar murder case

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