SC stays death sentence to 3 AIADMK workers

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New Delhi, Jan 18: The Supreme Court today stayed the death sentence awarded to three AIADMK workers in Dharmapuri bus burning case in which three girl students of Tamil Nadu Agricultural University, Coimbatore, were burnt alive.

On February 2, 2000, over 2000 AIADMK workers, while protesting against the conviction of former state chief minister J Jayalalithaa in a criminal case, had torched a bus carrying the three victims namely Kokila Vani, Gayathri and Hemalatha, along with 44 other students and two teachers. On February 16, 2007, Trial Court, Salem, awarded death sentences to the three petitioners and also sentenced 25 others to varying sentences.

The Madras High Court had confirmed the death sentence on December 6, last year.

A bench comprising Justices P P Naolekar and Lokeshwar Singh Panta stayed the death sentence, issuing notices to the state of Tamil Nadu on the appeal of the petitioners Nedun Chezhian, Ravindran and C Muniappan.

According to the appellants, the high court judgement confirming the capital punishments awarded to the petitioners did not fall in the category of ''rarest of rare'' cases and they were entitled to the exception of grave and sudden provocation as their leader J Jayalalithaa was being persecuted to settle political scores.

The petitioners also contended that the death of the deceased was the result of mob violence, which had over 2000 people and no specific role had been assigned to the petitioners and offence against them had not been proved beyond reasonable doubts.

According to the eye-witnesses, the whole incident happened suddenly and no description of the people involved in the actual torching of bus had been given by them, the petitioners said.

The petitioners had prayed to the apex court to set aside their conviction and sentence in the case.


UNI

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