The High Court of Madras has upheld the conviction and sentence awarded to 10 upper caste men by a trial court for killing a 23-year-old Dalit engineering student, Gokulraj, on suspicion of his being in a relationship with a woman belonging to their caste.
The Division Bench of Justice M.S. Ramesh and Justice N. Anand Venkatesh recently dismissed the appeals preferred by the convicts, including S. Yuvaraj, the prime accused and leader of a local dominant caste outfit, challenging their conviction and life sentence imposed by a trial court in 2015.
However, the High Court altered the sentence imposed upon two of the 10 convicts and reduced their life imprisonment to a sentence of five years.
Yuvaraj, a leader of local dominant caste group Maaveeran Dheeran Chinnamalai Gounder Peravai, was the prime accused in the case.
Noting that the prosecution was able to successfully establish the chain of events and prove its case, the High Court said it found no perversity in the trial court’s judgement convicting the accused.
It further noted that the case was about honour killing, observing that the accused in this case were under the influence of a demon called caste.
The Division Bench further said that prime accused Yuvaraj tried to influence the media and create an impression that a false case was charged against him. Judges should be mature enough to ‘shut’ the media and reach at findings based on purely legal principles, added the High Court.
Earlier in February, the Court had reserved its decision on the applications filed by 10 convicts and the appeal preferred by V. Chithra, Gokulraj’s mother, seeking conviction of five others, who were acquitted by the lower court.
The court dismissed the appeals filed by eight of the accused and those filed by the state and the mother of the deceased.
Gokulraj, a 21-year-old Dalit youth, was abducted from Tiruchengode Arthanareeswarar temple on June 23, 2015. The next day, his body was found with his head severed. It was later found that Gokulraj was killed by members of a fringe outfit for having a relationship with an upper caste woman.