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Dalit youth murder case : Madras HC upholds trial court order convicting Yuvaraj, 7 others

Date:

The Madras High Court today upheld a trial court order

convicting and sentencing Yuvaraj and seven others in the sensational dalit

youth Gokulraj murder case.

It may be recalled that a Special Court in Madurai had in March last year,

convicted 10 accused and acquitted five others in the 2015 murder case of

V. Gokulraj, an engineering graduate belonging to a Scheduled Caste, whose

body was found near the railway tracks in Namakkal district.

Third Additional District Judge T. Sampathkumar convicted the prime accused

S.Yuvaraj, who is the founder of the Theeran Chinnamalai Gounder Peravai and

nine others, who were charged of abducting and murdering Gokulraj.

They were found guilty of various offences under the IPC, including murder,

and for offences under the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention

of Atrocities) Act.

Pronouncing the sentences later, the Court sentenced Yuvaraj to life imprisonment

on three counts. All the 10 accused were awarded life sentences till death without

remission.

Though the police filed chargesheet against 15 accused, the trial court had only

convicted ten accused and acquitted the other five on March 8, 2022.

Passing orders on the appeals filed against the trial court order, a Division Bench

of Justices M.S.Ramesh and N.Anand Venkatesah upheld the conviction and life

sentence (till death without any remission) imposed by the trial court on Yuvaraj

and seven others for beheading Scheduled Caste engineering student Gokulraj

in 2015 on mere suspicion that he was in love with a girl belonging to Kongu

Vellalar community.

While stating the trial court was right in awarding the life sentence without

remission, the Bench however, reduced the life sentence of two convicts–

M.Prabhu and P. Giridhar–to five years rigorous imprisonment after convicting

them on only two charges, including harbouring an offender, under the IPC.

Dismissing a plea filed by the victim’s mother and the prosecution against the

trial court’s decision to acquit five other accused, the Bench held that the

trial court had given plausible reasons for not finding any reason to convict

them.

Also dismissing another appeal by her to increase the punishment of all convicts

to death sentence, the Bench said the prosecution has successfully established

the chain of events and prove its case.

The Bench said it found no perversity in the trial court’s judgement convicting

the accused.

To arrive at such conclusion, the High Court said, it examined nine points,

including the chain of events, Gokulraj’s visit to temple with Swathi, the

woman he was allegedly in a relationship with, Gokulraj’s severed torso being

recovered, the fact that Gokulraj’s death was homicidal, the motive behind the

crime, the last seen theory, Yuvaraj’s conduct after the incident, and scientific

evidence produced in the case.

All evidence was examined meticulously and the Court has not been swayed by

media reports or public sentiments, the judgment said.

“We remained conscious of the fact that moral conviction has no place in criminal

jurisprudence,” the bench said.

The Court also issued a word of caution to litigants and trial courts saying that

no one can be permitted to make a mockery of the law by allowing prime witnesses

to turn hostile.

It also said it had issued a slew of directions and a standard procedure that was

to be followed henceforth, in all cases where the prosecution cases hinge upon

CCTV footages and such electronic evidence.

Gokulraj, an engineering student, went missing on June 23, 2015. He was last seen

along with a woman friend at the Arthanareeswarar temple at Tiruchengode. Later,

his headless body was found by the railway track in Tamil Nadu’s Namakkal district.

The case was initially considered a suspicious death. But was later altered to

murder after the postmortem showed that the victim was strangled.

It was later proved in court that Gokulraj had been killed as he was a Dalit,

and the woman he was allegedly in a relationship with, belonged to the dominant

‘Gounder’ community.

The assailants had also forced Gokulraj to write a suicide note, besides recording

a video of him claiming to have decided to commit suicide because of love failure.

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