Confirms life sentence imposed on a contract killer for killing his friend-turned-foe

A confession of a murderer before a Tahsildar, an Executive Magistrate, could not be rejected merely because he had made a wrong statement before the trial court that he had recorded the confession under Section 164 of the Code of Criminal Procedure which could be invoked only by Judicial Magistrates and not others, the Madras High Court Bench here has held.

A Division Bench comprising Justice M. Jaichandren and Justice S. Nagamuthu said that the declaration of guilt made before the Tahsildar could always be treated as an extra-judicial confession and relied upon by a trial court to convict the accused if it inspired the confidence of the court.The observations were made while dismissing a criminal appeal filed by a contract killer Doss alias Vattakan alias Perumal alias Pethaperumal of Tirunelveli, challenging the conviction and life sentence imposed on him by a Sessions Court in July last year for having killed his close friend-turned-foe S. Balamurugan after suspecting the latter to have conspired to kill him.

According to the Manoor police in Tirunelveli district, Doss was a close friend of one Madhar alias Chelladurai who was also a contract killer. The trio was engaged by many, including the brother of a rape victim and a youngster who was aggrieved against being beaten up by the brother of a girl whom he eve-teased, to do away with the enemies.

Severing the heads and dumping the bodies in far off places was the modus operandi adopted by the killers. After one such murder committed at the behest of a bus conductor, Madhar refused to part away with a share of the contract amount to the appellant. It led to a bitter rivalry between them and Madhar conspired with Balamurugan to do away with Pethaperumal. On coming to know about their conspiracy, the appellant and four others, including a juvenile, hacked Balamurugan to death during a temple festival on April 29, 2008. His head was severed and the body thrown into a well after being packed in a gunny bag. The crime came to light only when the gunny bag was spotted by locals after two months.

In the meantime, the appellant surrendered before the Tahsildar on June 27, 2008, and confessed to have committed the murder. This confession became the prime factor for the lower court to have convicted him. Though the appellant’s counsel contended that it was highly improbable to believe that his client would have confessed to an unknown individual such as a Tahsildar, the Division Bench pointed out that the Executive Magistrate could not be termed a stranger to the convict who was a habitual offender. He might have chosen to surrender before the Tahsildar to avoid the police, the judges said.