Convicting the 13 accused, while acquitting two, of the murder of inter-caste couple S. Murugesan and D. Kannagi, Special Judge for Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribes cases, S. Uthamaraja, sentenced Kannagi's brother D. Maruthupandian, 49, to death besides slapping a penalty of Rs 4.5 lakh.
"The caste-related murders created a black mark on the society and Kannagi's death should be the last in Tamil Nadu," said the judge, as he imposed the life sentences to Kannagi's father C. Duraisamy, 68, her brother D. Rangasamy, 45, relatives Kandavelu, Jothi, R. Mani, R. Dhanavel, V. Anjapuli, K. Ramadoss, G. Venkatesan, and N. Chinnadurai. The court also fined each of them Rs 4.5 lakh.
Then Inspector, M. Sellamuthu, and then Sub-Inspector, K.P. Tamilmaran, were also sentenced to life imprisonment for trying to hush up the case. They also have to pay Rs 3 lakh each to the victim's kin.
The court discharged Murugesan's relatives, S. Ayyasami and P. Gunasekharan, saying that they were forcibly brought to the cremation ground and they did not have anything to do with the murder.
A heavy police posse was present in the court premises fearing retaliatory attacks against the family of Murugesan or to other Dalit families in the area after the verdict came.
According to prosecution, Murugesan, a Dalit, fell in love with Kannagi, a Vanniyar community girl, while they were studying at the Annamalai University. The couple eloped and tied the knot on May 5, 2003, at the Cuddalore sub-registrar's office without informing their relatives.
However, Kannagi's family was searching for them, and when they found them, they confined Murugesan and tortured him.
Later, the couple was taken to a nearby cashew grove in Pudukooraipettai village and forced to consume poison, resulting in their death.
The bodies were cremated the same day.
Murugesan's father Samikannu had filed a case at the Virudachalam police station, but Chellamuthu, who retired as a DSP, and Maran did not deliberately take action even after coming to know about the incident.
Subsequently, a case was registered on July 17, 2003 and after investigation, a charge sheet was filed against eight accused - four from each family - by the police.
However, Murugesan's father moved the Madras High Court for a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) investigation and his plea was granted. The agency took over the probe and registered a case on May 21, 2004.
After thorough investigation, it filed a charge sheet on October 14, 2005 before the Chief Judicial Magistrate of Chengalpattu against 15 accused, including the two police officials.