Coimbatore: SC rejects review plea by death row convict

Supreme Court, New Delhi

The Supreme Court on Thursday dismissed a review petition filed by Manoharan, a death row convict in a case of rape and murder of a 10-year-old girl and her brother, in Tamil Nadu's Coimbatore district in 2010.

A bench of Justices R F Nariman, Sanjiv Khanna and Surya Kant rejected the plea to reconsider the judgment passed on August 1.

Justice Kant, who read out the judgement, said that present offences by the petitioner were “so grave as to shock the conscience of this court and of society and would without doubt amount to rarest of the rare”.

Manoharan, along with Mohanakrishnan, a school van driver, who was killed in police encounter, picked class V and II students from school, took them to a remote location and raped and sodomised the girl. Subsequently, they administered poisonous milk to the victims to end their life. Since poisoning did not work, Mohanakrishnan and Manoharan threw both the children into the turbulent waters of a nearby Canal, where they drowned.

“The present case is essentially one where the accused misused societal trust... it was not in the spur of the moment or a crime of passion; but craftily planned, meticulously executed and with multiple opportunities to cease and desist,” Justice Kant, who authored the majority judgement on behalf of himself and Justice Nariman, said.

Justice Khanna, who had dissented and sentenced the convict to “jail till the remainder of natural life,” again stuck to his view on the punishment. He, however, concurred with the two judges on rejecting the review petition against the conviction.

The court had on October 16 reserved its order on the review petition, after hearing senior advocate Sidharth Luthra, who representing the convict, challenged validity of the main judgment on various aspects, including reliance upon the confessional statement and rejection of the retraction.

On August 1, the top court had upheld the death penalty awarded to the convict, saying “its judgment was in keeping with the legislature’s realisation that such crimes are on the rise and must be dealt with severely”.

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