The Madras High Court Bench here on Tuesday set aside the death sentence awarded to two men by a trial court in Tirunelveli, which held them guilty for murdering a family of four at Kalakkad in 2007. Allowing a criminal appeal filed by M. Katturaja and Vettum Perumal alias S. Krishnan alias Kitchi, the Bench, comprising Justices M. Jaichandren and S. Nagamuthu, acquitted the two of charges framed against them by the Kalakkad police.

The Bench on January 31, 2013, directed the police to conduct further investigation invoking its inherent powers under Section 482 of the Cr.PC. as the Bench was ‘totally dissatisfied’ with the investigation.

In their judgment delivered on Tuesday, the Bench ruled that despite pointing out numerous infirmities, the police had made no improvement in the case to establish the alleged involvement of the petitioners in the heinous crime.

According to the prosecution, on April 19, 2007, Katturaja and Krishnan hacked A. Jayakumar alias Muthalali to death with a billhook at his farmhouse suspecting that Jayakumar had an illicit affair with Katturaja’s wife.

Jayakumar’s wife Shanmugathai and the couple’s two minor daughters were also murdered when they attempted to prevent the duo from assaulting Jayakumar, the prosecution submitted.

The prosecution claimed that the billhook with which the family was hacked to death was recovered from the accused a day after the murder.

The counsel who appeared on behalf of the petitioners contended that there was no evidence to prove the motive behind the murder and there were numerous infirmities in the evidence submitted by the investigating officer.

The police officials did not identify the weapon recovered from the accused at the trial court.

Flaying the investigating agency for ‘serious lapses in investigation’, the judge said, “The case on hand will illustrate and stand as a testimony for all times to come, as to how the police agency has shown Nelson's blind eyes, despite further investigation ordered by this Court.”

In his order, Justice Nagamuthu pointed out that the amendment in Section 357-A of Cr.Pc which facilitated compensation for victims came into force with effect from December 31, 2009, but the State government had not implemented it.

With a direction to the State to implement the scheme within two months, the Bench directed the State to provide Rs 5 lakh compensation to the family of the victims. “With a heavy heart, we confess that there is failure of justice as, the criminal or criminals who committed these dastardly crimes, whoever it may be, are not punished”, the judges observed.