The Supreme Court will pronounce its verdict on Monday on a batch of appeals filed by 28 accused in the Dharmapuri bus burning case, including three, who were awarded death sentence.

The case relates to the death of three girl students – Kokilavani, Gayathri and Hemalatha – of the Tamil Nadu Agricultural University, Coimbatore. The bus in which they were travelling along with 44 other students and two teachers was torched on February 2, 2000 following the conviction of AIADMK leader Jayalalithaa in a criminal case.

A Bench of Justice G.S. Singhvi and Justice B.S. Chauhan had reserved verdict on July 28. The prosecution had justified the award of death sentence to three key accused – C. Muniappan, Nedunchezhian and Ravindran – and submitted that there was clear evidence to suggest that the accused, all AIADMK party functionaries, were responsible for the burning of the bus.

The accused, however, contended that the trial was vitiated and the death sentence awarded by the trial court and confirmed by the High Court was misplaced. On February 16, 2007, a trial court in Salem awarded death sentence to three accused and sentences of two months to two years to 25 others, who also filed appeals. On appeal, the Madras High Court on December 6, 2007 confirmed the trial court order.

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