Seventeen employees of the Forest Department who were convicted and sentenced for rape were handed over to the police immediately after the verdict. They were taken to the Salem Central Prison.

They were: P. Arunachalam, T. Arumugam, P. Rajagopal, A. Periyanayagam, Rajamanickam, K. Govindan, P. Rathinavelu, K. Pachaipan, A. Vediappan, P. Chidambaram, R.G. Perumal, L. Palani, M. Perumal, K. Alagiri, K. Madhaiyan, C. Kaliappan, V. Janakiraman.

All the officials from Forest, Police and Revenue departments except 17 accused of rape under Sections 376 of IPC, were given one month to appeal against this verdict. These 17 were accused of raping 18 women. They were sentenced to seven years RI and Rs. 2000 fine, failing which, they have to undergo a simple imprisonment of 21 months.

Twelve of these were also convicted and sentenced to 10 years RI and a fine of Rs.1000 each under Section 3 (2) (v) of SC and ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act 1989. All the accused have to undergo the sentence concurrently.

Apart from top-ranking officials, 122 forest officials and employees were also convicted under various sections of the IPC and the SC and ST (Prevention of Atrocities Act), 1989. They were sentenced to a maximum of three years rigorous imprisonment and a fine of Rs.1000 each. Failure to pay will attract simple imprisonment ranging from three months to 30 months.

As many as 84 police officials of the rank of Inspectors were also sentenced to a maximum of three years RI and Rs. 1000.

Five retired revenue officials from the rank of Village Administrative Officer to Tahsildar were also convicted under several sections and sentenced up to a maximum of three years RI.

The Principal District and Sessions Judge, S. Paramaguru, began announcing the convictions one by one in the forenoon. The sentencing took place in the afternoon, beginning at 3.30 p.m. and going on until 4.40 p.m.

He declared a compensation of Rs. 15,000 each to the rape victims.

He said the CBI would be paid Rs.1 lakh for expenses incurred during the last 15 years.

A case registered against Vachathi villagers for alleged attack on Forests officials during the 1992 incidents is pending in a court at Harur.

Keywords: Vachathi case