The Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court on Tuesday relaxed the conditions imposed on 13 life convicts, who were prematurely released in a case concerning Melavalavu murder, which claimed the lives of six Dalits, including former president of the Melavalavu village panchayat, on June 30, 1997.
After K Murugesan was elected president of the Melavalavu panchayat, near Melur in Madurai in 1997, enmity developed between the upper caste people and the Dalits in the village, which triggered the gruesome murder. A total of 17 men were accused of the murder and they were sentenced to life imprisonment. Their conviction and sentence to life was confirmed by the Supreme Court on October 22, 2009.
Among those convicts, three were already released on grounds of good conduct on the occasion of former Chief Minister CN Annadurai’s birth anniversary, and one convict died.
Challenging the premature release of those 13 convicts, P Rathinam, the petitioner, sought the court to direct the respondents to furnish copies of the GO issued from the Home (Prison-IV) Department dated November 8, 2019.
On November 27, the court debarred those 13 convicts from entering the Melavalavu village in its order. Taking into consideration the sensitivity of the issue and also to avoid any unwanted law and order problem at the village, certain interim directions were issued by the court affirming the convicts’ denial of entry into the village and moreover those convicts were ordered to stay at Vellore district and report before the District Probation Officer concerned in Vellore twice a month on every 2nd and 4th Sundays.
They were also instructed to report before the Vellore Superintendent of Police twice a month on every 1st and 3rd Sundays.
A special division bench of Justice R Subramanian and Justice N Sathish Kumar said the bench was constituted specially to hear this petition, but it was concerning that the petitioner did not appear for the hearing. Hence, the special bench cancelled the interim directions. The case was adjourned to March 16.