Kannagi-Murugesan caste killing case: HC commutes death sentence of girl’s brother

The Madras HC reduced girls’ brother Maruthupandiyan’s sentence to life imprisonment while two others were acquitted in the brutal 2003 inter-caste killing case

The girl's family tortured the couple before forcing them to drink poison and two were then burnt in the presence of the villagers | Image for Representative Purposes Only

The Madras High Court on Wednesday commuted the death sentence of Maruthupandiyan, brother of Kannagi, and acquitted two others persons in connection with the sensational Kannagi-Murugesan inter-caste killing case in Tamil Nadu.

On September 24, 2021, a Special Court for SC/ST Act in Cuddalore awarded death sentence to Maruthupandiyan and sentenced 12 others, including the girl’s father, to life imprisonment in the killing of inter-caste couple S Murugesan and D Kannagi at Virudhachalam.

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Girl’s father gets life imprisonment

On hearing the appeal petitions, Madras High Court on Wednesday commuted the death sentence awarded to Maruthupandiyan to life imprisonment and acquitted two persons, Rangasamy and Chinnadurai, relatives of Kannagi. The High Court confirmed the conviction and punishment for the rest of them, including Kannagi’s father Duraisamy, then police inspector Sellamuthu, sub-Inspector Tamil Maran and seven other relatives of Kannagi.

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The case dates back to 2003. Murugesan (25), a chemical engineering graduate belonging to the scheduled caste, fell in love with Kannagi (22), a commerce graduate of Vanniyar caste, a most backward community in Tamil Nadu, when both of them were studying in Annamalai University. Both were residents of Puthukooraipettai in Cuddalore district.

In May 2003, they secretly got married and registered the marriage on May 5, 2003, at Cuddalore. Considering this as an affront to their family, Kannagi’s family traced the couple and took them to their village on July 7. They tortured the couple the whole night before forcing them to drink poison in the early hours of July 8. Both were then burnt in the presence of the villagers.

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Though the deaths were initially termed suicide, later they were said to be murdered and the case was investigated by the CBI. In 2009, CBI filed a 690-page chargesheet before the Special Court for SC/ST Act in 2009. As many as 81 witnesses were examined in the case, out of which 36 turned hostile.

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At the end of the trial, on September 24,2021, Special Court for SC/ST cases convicted 13 people and awarded death sentence to Marudhupandian and life imprisonment to her father C Duraisami, then police inspector at Virudhachalam station Tamil Maran and 10 others.