Coimbatore rape-murder case: SC rejects convict's plea

Representative image. (PTI photo)

The Supreme Court on Thursday dismissed a review petition filed by Manoharan, the death row convict in the case of rape of a girl and killing of her and her brother in Tamil Nadu's Coimbatore district in 2010.

A bench of Justices R F Nariman, Sanjiv Khanna and Surya Kant, by a majority view of 2:1, rejected the plea to reconsider the judgement passed on August 1.

Justice Kant, who read out the majority judgement, said that the offences were so grave that there was no ground to review the verdict awarding him the capital punishment.

Justice Khanna, who had dissented with the punishment in the main judgement, again stuck to his view in judgement on the review petition by the convict.

The court had on October 16 reserved the judgement on the review petition.

On August 1, the top court had upheld the death penalty awarded to the convict for sensational murder of two siblings after committing rape of the 10-year-old girl. The court had said "the judgement was in keeping with the legislature’s realisation that such crimes are on the rise and must be dealt with severely."

Justices Nariman and Kant had then dismissed the appeal filed by Manoharan against the Madras High Court's judgement of March 24, 2014, which had confirmed the trial court's judgement holding him guilty of rape and murder of 10-year-old girl and killing of her seven-year-old brother.

Justice Khanna, however, had dissented on punishment and instead awarded the appellant with life term, saying the case fell under special category where he should remain in jail till the end of natural life.

Holding that the present case does not fall under the category of ‘rarest of rare’ case, Justice Khanna noted mitigating factors like he was 23-year-old and the first-time offender and hailed from the poor family.

In the judgement authored by Justice Nariman, he said, “The crime committed was cold blooded and involved the rape of a minor girl and murder of two children in the most heinous fashion possible.” It was unlikely that the appellant, if set free, would not be capable of committing such a crime yet again, he added.

“Just as this judgment is being dictated, we notice that a significant amendment has been made to the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012, by which death penalty has been brought in for “aggravated penetrative sexual assault”,” it said.

Justice Khanna, however, said Manoharan was not initially involved in the abduction and kidnapping of the children. He was not the mastermind. It was Mohanakrishnan, who was killed in police encounter, who had planned, conceived and single-handedly executed the plan to abduct the children.

“Appellant did join him thereafter and was with Mohanakrishnan (since deceased). Subsequently, the devil in Mohanakrishnan 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, poison was administered to the children before throwing them into the canal. The offence committed was heinous and deplorable,” Justice Khanna said.

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