J. Venkatesan

New Delhi: The Supreme Court has reserved its verdict on a special leave petition filed by 17 persons awarded life imprisonment in the 1997 Melavalavu massacre case. Six persons belonging to the Scheduled Caste were killed in the incident.

A Bench of Justice V.S. Sirpurkar and Justice Deepak Verma reserved the verdict last week after hearing senior counsel Altaf Ahmed and counsel K.K. Mani for the petitioners and senior counsel V. Kanakaraj and S. Thanjanjayan for the State.

The prosecution case was that the Melavalavu panchayat, which was a general constituency, was declared a reserved constituency in 1996. This had caused resentment between Scheduled Caste people and Ambalakarar community. In the 1996 panchayat elections, one Murugesan was elected president.

In June 1997, a group of persons attacked Murugesan, vice-president Mookan and others with deadly weapons, resulting in the death of six persons and injuries to many others. A total of 40 persons were cited as accused in the case. The trial court convicted Alagarsamy and 16 others and sentenced them to undergo life imprisonment. On appeal, the High Court by its judgment dated April 19, 2006, confirmed the trial court’s order. Alagarsamy and others filed appeals against this judgment.

Counsel for the appellants argued that the trial court had convicted the appellants on the interested and discrepant testimony of the prosecution witnesses.

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