P. Ganesh and his sister P. Parvathi (names changed) of Sennampatti village in Thanjavur district were 16 and 12-years-old respectively when they were charged of committing a murder along with their parents in 1997. Twelve years have elapsed since then, yet the siblings are yet to face trial in the criminal case!

A Division Bench comprising Justices R. Regupathi and R. Subbiah on Tuesday found out the delay in commencement of trial against the brother-sister duo, while hearing a criminal appeal filed by their parents in the Madras High Court Bench here against their conviction by a Sessions Court in 2002.

The judges reprimanded the police officer concerned for being "lethargic" and not taking steps to put the brother and sister on trial before the juvenile court. They directed the Thanjavur Superintendent of Police to initiate appropriate action against the investigating officer who handled the case at the relevant period.

Further, the High Court Registry was directed to despatch the original case bundles to the juvenile court which, in turn, was ordered to expedite the trial and conclude it at the earliest. In the meantime, the criminal appeal filed by their parents would be kept pending until the original records were returned to the High Court.

The siblings’ mother, sentenced to life imprisonment, was now appearing before a judicial magistrate in Thanjavur on the first day of every month, as per a condition imposed by the High Court while granting her bail in 2002. Their father, who was sentenced to only four years of rigorous imprisonment, had also obtained bail.

According to the prosecution, the murder took place on May 8, 1997 owing to a dispute between the accused and deceased over a pathway to their house. The mother was accused of giving a Sulukki (spear) to her son and asking him to finish off the deceased. She and her daughter had also inflicted cut injuries on the victim.

The case was split into two as a couple of the accused were juveniles. A Sessions Court on May 22, 2002 convicted the mother under Section 302 (murder) of the Indian Penal Code. However, the father was found guilty only under Section 324 (voluntarily causing hurt by dangerous weapons) and sentenced to undergo a lesser term.

More In: Madurai