In a new twist to the sensational case of rape and murder of a 10-year-old girl at Jaihindpuram here in 2006, the death convict V. Selvam on Wednesday claimed that he was a minor at the time of the alleged occurrence of the crime.

Disposing of a criminal appeal filed by him in the Madras High Court Bench here against the conviction and death sentence, Justices P. Murgesen and C.S. Karnan remitted the matter back to the trial court for considering it afresh.

According to the prosecution, Selvam, joined as a casual worker with a flower vendor who had his shop-cum-residence at Jaihindpuram. He was accommodated in the same house since he claimed to be hailing from Tiruchi.

On October 22, 2006, he raped his employer’s daughter, then studying in fourth standard. The girl sustained head injuries when she resisted. She was also strangulated. A few days later, her dead body was found in a carton in the second floor of the house.

The Mahila Court here on August 1, 2008 convicted Selvam under Section 302 (murder) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and imposed capital punishment. The court found it to be a rarest of rare case warranting death sentence.

He was also sentenced to 10 years of rigorous imprisonment under Section 450 (house trespass), life sentence under Section 376 (rape), another 10 years under Section 377 (unnatural offences) and seven years under Section 201 (causing disappearance of evidence) of the IPC.

The trial court judgement was immediately referred to the High Court for confirmation in accordance with procedures prescribed under the Code of Criminal Procedure for dealing with cases relating to imposition of death sentence.

Simultaneously, the convict also filed an appeal assailing the trial court judgement as well as the prosecution case on various grounds. He had mentioned his age as 22 in an affidavit filed in support of his criminal appeal filed last year.

However, now the convict filed a fresh petition raising an additional ground that he was only 17 years old at the time of the alleged occurrence of crime. “Unfortunately I had not raised the above ground at the time of trial,” he said.

Claiming that he was born on June 1, 1989 as per a certificate issued by a Panchayat Union middle school at Tirupparankundram, he contended that he ought to have been tried by a Juvenile Justice Board and not the Mahila Court.

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