The Supreme Court at a special sitting on Sunday stayed the execution of death sentence of convict Selvam, fixed for Monday by the First Additional Sessions Judge Salem, in a case of rape and murder of a minor girl.

A Bench of Justices Markandey Katju and Gyan Sudha Misra, in a sitting held at the former's residence, heard counsel K.V. Vijayakumar and stayed the execution after it was brought to the court's notice that the convict was to be hanged on Monday morning.

The Bench issued notice to the State seeking its response on the special leave petition filed by Selvam challenging the September 21 judgment of the Madras High Court upholding the death sentence awarded by the trial court. Counsel submitted that the date of execution had been fixed before the expiry of the 90-day period for the convict to move the Supreme Court.

The prosecution said the appellant raped and murdered a class IV student in February 2009. The trial court in March 2010 slapped the death sentence. The High Court was also of the view that the evidence was marshalled properly and the prosecution without an iota of doubt had established the guilt of the accused. It had been proved that it was he who had actually taken the girl, raped and murdered her and then put the body in a gunny bag and placed it in a canal.

The court said that all the charges levelled against him stood proved and it affirmed the finding of the trial court. Further, it was held that it was a fit case where the death sentence awarded by the trial court had to be upheld.

Assailing the High Court judgment, the appellant said that some of his antecedents considered by the High Court were inadmissible as evidence.

Further, the High Court had failed to consider the possibility of his reform and rehabilitation.

It ought to have commuted the death sentence into life imprisonment, he said and prayed for a stay on the operation of the judgment and stay on execution of the death sentence

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