A division bench of Justices M Sathyanarayana and V M Velumani also modified the sentence in respect of two other convicts and abated it against one who had died.
Inbaraj, secretary of the parents welfare association, who lost two sons in the accident, said the district court had delivered a judgment 10 years after the incident adding that the modification of sentences had come as a shock to them.
“Only after the loss of 94 lives, thatched roofs of schools across the state were converted into concrete ones,” he added. “If the state government fails to appeal against the acquittal, we will move the apex court,” he said. Mahesh and Shanthi, who had lost their son in the fire, said, “The original judgement was delayed and now even the punishment awarded has not been sustained. If the accused come out of jail, it will embolden others who fail in their duty. Hence, the state government should file an appeal.”
In all, 21 persons were charged for offences under various sections of the IPC in connection with the incident. Of them, the trial court had acquitted 11 while convicting and sentencing the remaining 10, including ‘Pulavar’ Palanisamy, founder of Sri Krishna Matriculation School, where the mishap occurred.
Palanisamy was awarded life imprisonment and the bench modified the sentence awarded to him to one of the period already undergone during investigation, trial and post-conviction. It also modified the fine amount to Rs 1,16,500.