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Updated: January 14, 2012 10:42 IST

Neither death nor life for Govindasamy

V. S. Palaniappan
Comment (11)   ·   print   ·   T  T  

One hell of a roller-coaster ride for a multiple murderer in Tamil Nadu

He teetered between life and death. After being sentenced to death for multiple murders, Govindasamy lived to see the date of his hanging fixed, and then cancelled, four times.

On the night of May 29, 1984, Govindasamy killed five members of his uncle's family at Kondayampalayam near Sathyamangalam in Tamil Nadu's Erode district, following a property-related dispute.

He slit the throats of Nagamalai Gounder, his wife Ponnuthai Ammal and their sons Balasubramanian and Murthy. Murthy's daughter Selvi alias Anbu Selvi's body was smashed to a wall.

Govindasamy spent a year in jail as an undertrial until a trial court acquitted him in 1985. The State appealed before the Madras High Court, which pronounced a death sentence on him on September 2, 1997.

Between the acquittal and the High Court verdict, Govindasamy married Easwari. He told her to remain composed if the people of Kondayampalayam called her a murderer's wife. During this period, they had two children — Damodaran and Padmavathi.

After the High Court verdict, he was lodged first in the Vellore Central Prison and then shifted to the Coimbatore prison. Easwari moved the Supreme Court, which upheld the sentence on April 22, 1998.

The Tamil Nadu Governor rejected his mercy petition on September 16, 1999. The President's office did the same in October.

The hanging was fixed for November 9, 1999. But the High Court stayed it on a petition moved by him.

The reprieve was short-lived as the court vacated the stay on February 2, 2000. The gallows were to be ready for Govindasamy on February 14, 2000. But on February 5, on a fresh petition from him, the High Court stayed the hanging.

After this stay was vacated, March 16, 2000 was fixed as the date of execution. But one more petition brought another stay on March 7.

Then two Special Leave Petitions filed before the Supreme Court gave him even more time. The court said nothing would be done till March 28, 2000. July 14, 2000 was then fixed for hanging, and there was almost an air of certainty this time that the execution would be carried out. But the hanging was put off once again following government intervention.

No parole

On August 4, 2000, the execution was suspended till a final decision was to be taken. Then came Government Order No.1143 on December 31, 2009. It said Govindasamy would not be hanged. But it came with a rider: he would have to undergo rigorous life imprisonment till his natural death, with no room for leave or parole.

As a life convict, Govindasamy is now eager to visit his home and till his six-acre parcel of land to feed his family.

A wife's battle

When this correspondent visited Easwari at Karappadi village near Sathyamangalam, she said all that she had wanted during these years was to save her husband's life. “My battle was to prevent his execution. But I never knew anything about the alleged offence for which my husband was convicted to death, and now to life.”

“It is enough if we get to see him once in a while. Even this is proving to be difficult for the family,” she lamented. She has to slog for their daily meal. The children have to attend school on weekdays; the prison allows visitors only on weekdays.

Easwari was employed in a knitting unit in Tirupur. But poor health forced her out of the job.

Now, she is dependent on farm wages, but those barely meet the family's needs. Pointing at the leaking roof of her 100-square-foot house, she said: “I have no means to repair the house. We struggle with a meagre income and the old-age pension that my mother gets from the government.”

Govindasamy works in the book-binding unit in the prison and sends home part of his wages. He has sought work in the prison looms for a higher income that would help fund his children's education.

Easwari's goal is to ensure higher education for her son Damodaran, who scored 430 out of 500 in the SSLC examinations and is now in the Plus-Two class. He aspires to become an engineer.

Padmavathi is in Class IX. Easwari now looks up to Damodaran to take care of his sister. “We've been punished enough for no fault of ours. We suffered, and continue to suffer, despite my children and I not knowing anything about those alleged murders.”

Fortunately, the residents of the village sympathise with the family. This has helped them move on, she says.

Why there is not even one word about the state of victim's family? How they are living? How they are feeling? And there is not even regret on part of the accussed about his deeds.Shall he be forgiven?

from:  Shahid
Posted on: Jan 14, 2012 at 10:02 IST

Pathetic...26 years and the victims family still waiting for justice. Really sad state of affairs. This will only encourage people with a criminal set of mind

from:  rohit rane
Posted on: Dec 22, 2011 at 19:50 IST

I value human life. But pardoning a murderer has the effect of supporting is crime. Either the murderer should be in jail till his natural death or murderers should be hanged. We see murderers walking out of jail in 7, 9, 10 or 11 years on a Christmas or Pongal or Onam or Gandhi Jayanthi. This is a crime against the dead man's family, against humanity and also it creates more murders and murderers - as we see in India.
There should be a simple matrix system to decide which murderer dies. A woman killing in self defence is not a murderer. A man raping and killing a 8 year old child does not deserve any mercy.

from:  Jaykrishnan B
Posted on: Nov 30, 2011 at 09:53 IST

No one lives on the earth / the planet have the right to Hang or kill some one. Death sentence is inhuman practice ,should be stopped at any cost. Many of the crimes were committed in rage or in fit of fury ,emotionally driven one. Public should be educated on moral values as well as the Laws and about constitutional details ,from higher schools and free Judicial suppot centers should be establised in each villages , it also will avoid people from commiting crime. it is a complex issue should be handled carefully.

from:  shakthi kumaran
Posted on: Nov 21, 2011 at 12:43 IST

Govindasamy not only took the life of five, but also spoiled the life of three more people.

from:  Rajesh A Nair
Posted on: Oct 28, 2011 at 12:19 IST

Actually this Govindasamy could have been hanged during 1984 itself, till date he is alive. How he got married and having 2 children when he is in prison? that lady Easwari has no sense at all to have married a clean murderer. Irrespective of these 3, he should be hanged at least now, not later than this. How terribly he murdered a family without sympathy - the government and Court should not show sympathy towards this creature. He killed the family abruptly for after all money and asset, he must be punished with death sentence. No other go. The Court should not have stayed this in the previous petition. ofcourse they can finalise this now, after 26 years of his murdering those 5 persons whole family.

from:  srinivasan.indumathi
Posted on: Oct 28, 2011 at 12:09 IST

This is heartrending. Though the convict definitely deserves hanging the delay in the execution is perplexing even after the rejection of the mercy petition several years ago. The mockery of unexplained WAIT after the rejection of the mercy petition in several cases of postponed hangings is not explained by the authorities. Either the Death Penalty should be abolished or the execution should be completed after the mercy petition is rejected. The convict should not DIE EVERY DAY.

S Mani

from:  S Mani
Posted on: Oct 28, 2011 at 11:01 IST

If there is a moral of this story it would be 'Justice delayed is justice denied'. It starts with a crime that has been without doubt committed, the legal luminaries in our system had concluded that it deserved the maximum punishment, but then the story seems to lose its way.The focus seems to move onto how the punishment can be avoided.In the period that the culprit awaits his waterloo he marries an innocent begets two children and permanently puts the newly acquired family into a life of turmoil which might even prod the children into a life of crime.In other words the society consisting of 'hopefully' a majority of people intending to living honourable lives has to witness such stories which seems to tell us, the bigger the crime the lesser the chances of getting the punishment it truly deserved.Those in our midst with latent criminal intentions do not get any disincentives to avoid a path of crime.In the distorted minds of the criminal avoiding the punishment would be like a reward.

from:  P.Sukumar
Posted on: Oct 28, 2011 at 10:11 IST

All this is wasting tax payers' money and good judicial time and also of the government servants and the Governor's office, who could have used the much wanted time to accomplish other urgent and serious matters that warrants their services; needless to say it must needs, India must scrap capital punishment for good. Procrastination is the thief of time and the Indian judicial system in an exemplary to this figurative.

from:  Richard Kamalanathan
Posted on: Oct 28, 2011 at 09:25 IST

I don't know why The Hindu, known for its no-nonsense news reporting
and quality, is trying to reopen the healed wound by publishing such
stories which recall the hatred and animosity between the families of
the victims and the convicts. In my opinion such stories serve no
purpose except highlighting the government's attitude in taking
important decisions on mercy plea, death sentences etc. The Hindu will
do a great service to the readers if it stops publishing such stories
and instead take up other human interest stories or social issues.

from:  janakiraman
Posted on: Oct 28, 2011 at 05:08 IST

Life is most precious gift bestowed on us. Both lives of victims and the murderer are invaluable. The solution I would think of is - avoid crimes by reforming ourselves, raising kids with moral values; become less materialistic, less greedy, spiritual; living in the moment, helping others; knowing and following law; respect elders; practice meditation an hour every day for lifetime, practice yoga everyday.

from:  Suresh
Posted on: Oct 28, 2011 at 03:15 IST
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