SLP filed by State against High Court judgment

The Supreme Court on Thursday reserved verdict on a special leave petition (SLP) filed by the Tamil Nadu government against a judgment of the Madras High Court acquitting John David, allegedly involved in the gruesome murder of Navarasu, son of former Vice-Chancellor of the University of Madras, K. Ponnuswamy.

A Bench of Justice Dalveer Bhandari and Justice Mukundakam Sharma reserved verdict at the conclusion of arguments from Tamil Nadu counsel S. Thananjayan and senior counsel Sushil Kumar and counsel V. Mohana for the respondent John David.

Prosecution case

The prosecution case was that Navarasu, a first year MBBS student of Muthaiyah Medical College, Annamalai University, Chidambaram, was staying in the college hostel in 1996.

He was found missing from the hostel on November 6, 1996. The next day, the torso of his mutilated body was found on the outskirts of Chennai.

The prosecution said that John David, a hostel mate of Navarasu, committed the murder. The trial court convicted John David of murder and sentenced him to undergo life imprisonment.

On appeal by John David, the High Court acquitted him of all charges. The present SLP was directed against the High Court judgment.

In its SLP, the State government submitted that the High Court ought to have come to the conclusion that medical evidence fully supported the prosecution case and all circumstances unerringly pointed towards the guilt of the accused.

The reasons given by the High Court for rejecting the prosecution version and acquitting the accused were not sound and convincing.

Mr. Thananjayan argued that the High Court had committed a grave error in acquitting the accused when the skull of the victim and his chain were recovered from a canal in the presence of independent witnesses on the basis of the confessional statement given by him.

The blood stains in the suitcase in which the mutilated body was kept matched with that of the victim.

He said merely because there was some discrepancy with regard to the timing of the recovery of the skull of Navarasu, the entire investigation should not be discarded when there were other circumstantial evidence to link the chain of events.

He sought quashing of the impugned judgment.

Mr. Sushil Kumar justified the High Court judgment and said there was no material on record to prove that Navarasu was taken by John David to Room No. 319 in the hostel and killed there.

The trial court had accepted the fact that there was no blood stain in the room. Further, the High Court had rightly held that there was suspicion on the genuineness of the confessional statement made by John David to the police as it was not voluntary. The High Court judgment did not call for any interference.