The Supreme Court on Friday acquitted John Pandian of the Tamizhaga Makkal Munntera Kazhagam and four others, who were awarded life imprisonment in the Vivek murder case in Coimbatore on August 17, 1993.
A Bench of Justice V.S. Sirpurkar and Justice Cyriac Joseph also acquitted Sivakumar (A-2), Ubaiadulla(A-4), Yusuf (A-5) and Abdul Kareem (A-6), giving them the benefit of doubt.
Allowing their appeals, the Bench directed that they be set at liberty forthwith unless required in any other case. The Bench held that the prosecution had failed to prove the case against the appellants beyond reasonable doubt.
The appellants, John Pandian (A-7) and four others, were roped in as the conspirators but there was, however, no direct evidence against them insofar as the act of assault on deceased was concerned, it said.
The Bench, however, confirmed the life sentence imposed on two others, Kumar (A-9) and Pavunraj (A-10), holding them guilty of the charges.
The prosecution case was that Vivek, Venkataramakrishnan and Sunitha were classmates in college. Venkataramakrishnan fell in love with Sunitha, but she turned him down and married Vivek. He wanted to eliminate Vivek and marry Sunitha. To achieve this aim, he hatched a plot with others, engaged mercenaries and murdered Vivek in August 1993.
(Venkataramakrishnan while undergoing prison term committed suicide on October 20, 2009. )
The trial court awarded life sentence to the accused and the Madras High Court confirmed this. The appeals are directed against this judgment.
It was the contention of the appellants that there was absolutely nothing to connect them to the murder.
The prosecution misdirected its investigation and in the process the appellants who had nothing whatsoever with the case had to be implicated. There was no proper test identification parade and no explanation was given for non-examination of eyewitnesses.
The falsity of the prosecution story would be clear if the overall picture was taken into account. They submitted that the prosecution had failed to establish the motive and they had been falsely implicated. Further, there were serious infirmities and inconsistencies in the evidence of other witnesses. The Supreme Court accepted their contentions and acquitted five of the seven appellants.