The Supreme Court on Friday commuted to life imprisonment the capital punishment awarded to three convicts in the case relating to burning to death of three college girls in Dharmapuri in Tamil Nadu in 2000 following J Jayalalithaa’s conviction in a graft case.
A bench, headed by justice Ranjan Gogoi, commuted the capital punishment observing that the incident had happened in a flash during mob frenzy and it was not pre-meditated.
The apex court had earlier stayed the execution of the capital punishment for three convicts C Muniappan, Ravindran and Nedunchezhian on their pleas seeking a review of the apex court’s verdict upholding death penalty awarded to them.
The apex court had on August 30, 2010 upheld the death penalty for the trio, rejecting their pleas for leniency.
The three victims of the infamous Dharampuri bus burning incident –-- Kokilavani, Gayathri and Hemalatha --– were students of Tamil Nadu Agricultural University, Coimbatore.
The bus in which they were travelling along with 44 other students and two teachers was torched on February 2, 2000 following Jayalalithaa’s conviction in the Pleasant Stay Hotel case.
On February 16, 2007, a trial court in Salem had awarded death sentence to the three accused after finding them guilty of murder, attempt to murder and other charges under IPC and gave varying sentences of two months to two years to 25 others.
The Madras high court had on December 6, 2007, confirmed the capital punishment and the sentence of six months to two years imprisonment imposed on 25 others.