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John Pandian, nine others get life term

By V.S. Palaniappan

Coimbatore Jan. 6. The Fast Track Court-I judge, Sadayandi, today convicted and sentenced ten persons, including John Pandian, Dalit leader and founder-president of the Tamizhaga Munnetra Kazhagam, to undergo life imprisonment for the murder of a finance firm owner, Vivek.

The daylight murder was committed by a gang of mercenaries on a busy road here on August 17, 1993. The prosecution, in its charge sheet, accused 11 persons of committing the offence under the directions of John Pandian.

The murder was carried out at the instigation of a mill owner and director of an educational trust, S. Venkataraman (A 1), who hatched a conspiracy to take revenge on Vivek for marrying a girl whom he wanted to wed, it said.

The then Inspector, R.S. Puram, and the investigating officer of the case, Rathinasabapathy, arrested the eleven persons, including Sivakumar, Subramani alias Subbukutty, Ubaidullah alias Tamil Selvan, Yusuf, Abdul Karim, John Pandian (seventh accused), Ganesan, Kumar, Pavunraj and Prince Kumar.

A separate case against John Pandian is pending before the magistrate court here for threatening the investigating officer with dire consequences during trial.

Cases were registered against the eleven persons under Section IPC 120 B (conspiracy), 302 (murder) and 109 (aiding, abetting an offence), while charges under Section 34 (common intention) read with 302 was levelled against three accused.

The judge said, "The court cannot take a lenient view of the offence and pardon the accused because it was a conspiracy hatched for the sake of a woman and a gruesome murder executed by mercenaries for the sake of money". Any lenience for such a mercenary killing would hamper the peace in a city such as Coimbatore, he observed.

However, taking into account the age and family circumstances of the accused, the judge sentenced 10 of the 11 accused to undergo a life term. Observing that the third accused, Subramani alias Subbukutty, driver for the first accused, had not played any role in the offence, the judge acquitted him.

He directed Venkataraman and John Pandian to pay a fine of Rs. 2 lakhs and Rs. 1 lakh respectively. In case of default, they should undergo one more year of simple imprisonment. A penalty of Rs. 2,000 each was imposed on seven accused and six months RI, in case of default. A sum of Rs. 20,000 was levied as penalty on Kumar, and, in default, he should undergo one more year of simple imprisonment. The court said Rs. 1.5 lakhs from the proceeds of the penalty should be paid to legal heirs of the victim.

R.Sankar, counsel for Venkataraman, sought A class facility for his client, who was a director of a group of companies and Income Tax assesse. Counsel for John Pandian made a similar plea on the ground that he was an income tax assessee and leader of a political party. The judge reserved orders in this regard.

There are 42 cases against John Pandian, including five murder cases, of which, he had been acquitted in four.

This is the first conviction for the Dalit leader in a murder case.

Security tightened

Our Tirunelveli Staff Reporter reports:

Following the conviction of John Pandian, the police have made elaborate security arrangements in Tirunelveli, his hometown.

Besides posting policemen in important places, patrolling by armed policemen had been intensified, especially on national highways. Night bus services to remote villages have been suspended.

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