The Court acquitted B. Chinnasamy, father of C. Kowsalya and ordered his release, and also commuted the death sentence of five assailants to life imprisonment

The Madras High Court on Monday acquitted B. Chinnasamy, the prime accused in the sensational 2016 ‘Udumalpet’ Shankar murder case from all charges, and set aside the death sentence imposed on him by the trial court in December 2017.

Justices M. Sathyanarayanan and M. Nirmal Kumar ordered his release forthwith, besides returning the fine amount, if any, paid by him. They also confirmed the acquittal of his wife C. Annalakshmi and her brother P. Pandidurai from the case.

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Mr. Chinnasamy, belonging to an OBC community had been accused of hiring contract killers to murder engineering student V. Shankar belonging to a Scheduled Caste because the latter had married his daughter C. Kowsalya.

The brutal murder shook the State and was termed as one of the most horrific caste killings. The trial court awarded the death sentence to six, life to one and five years of imprisonment to one more accused in the case.

While all the convicts had come on appeal to the High Court, the State too appealed against the acquittal of three more accused including Ms. Annalakshmi, Mr. Pandidurai and one of the alleged hitmen, Prasanna alias V. Prasanna Kumar.

The Division Bench led by Justice Sathyanarayanan dismissed the State appeal and allowed the appeal preferred by Mr. Chinnasamy on the ground that neither the charge of criminal conspiracy nor that of murder stood proved against him.

Since he was still in prison, he was ordered to be released forthwith. Appeals preferred by two members of the gang K. Dhanraj alias Tamil alias Stephen Dhanraj and M. Manikandan were also allowed and their life as well as five years of sentences respectively, were set aside. They were also ordered to be released forthwith.

As far as five other assailants: P. Jagatheesan (Mr. Chinnasamy’s friend), M. Manikandan, P. Selvakumar, P. Kalaithamilvaanan alias Tamil alias Kalai and M. Mathan alias Michael were concerned, the High Court commuted their death sentences to life imprisonment. It ordered that they should be made to undergo imprisonment for a minimum period of 25 years without any remission whatsoever.