Letting this convict live will be severe punishment than death, says HC

The Madras High Court on Monday modified to life the death sentence imposed on a businessman who had murdered his mother, wife and two minor children due to mounting debts after the 2016 demonetisation. The court said, letting him live with the thoughts of his fiendish act will be a far more severe punishment than a death sentence.

Justices P.N. Prakash and R. Pongiappan said the convict M. Dhamodharan alias Prakash of Pammal near Chennai was a “coward” who lacked the courage to face the financial crisis he was into and that his life would get extinguished in a jiffy if he was sent to the gallows as ordered by the trial court.

On the other hand, “if he is permitted to live, the thoughts of his fiendish act of liquidating his mother, wife and two minor children will haunt him till his last breath, which, in our opinion, is a far more severe punishment, than the death sentence. Hence, we modify the sentence of death penalty into one of life imprisonment,” the judges wrote.

They, however, made it clear that the convict should be imprisoned for a minimum of 25 years without being given the benefit of any statutory remission or commutation of sentence. “The rider is added because he has to suffer this long at least for the mindless violence he had [let] loose on the hapless victims,” the Division Bench said.

The convict was basically an economics graduate who had got married in 2010. He was managing a cloth store established by his father in Pammal in 2006 and continued the business after his father’s death in 2014. His business slumped after the demonetisation of a couple of currency notes on November 8, 2016 and he began to accumulate debts.

Unable to face the financial crisis, he had stabbed his entire family to death with a kitchen knife and attempted suicide too by slitting his throat on December 12, 2017. However, the Chengalpattu trial court did not find him guilty of the charge of suicide and held that it was a drama enacted by him to wriggle out of the parricide

Disagreeing with the conclusion of the trial court, the High Court said there was no other motive for the convict to have indulged in such a drastic act than the financial crisis that he was facing. The judges pointed out that there were overwhelming evidence in the form of suicide note, judicial confession and so on to support their conclusion.

Authoring the verdict, Justice Prakash wrote: “It is easier for a person to take another’s life than his own because survival instinct and self preservation, which are evolutionary traits, will intervene and pose obstacles when suicide is attempted. That is why, perhaps, the appellant did not show the same ferocity while attempting to cut himself.”

(People in need of help to overcome suicidal tendencies can contact the State Health Department’s round-the-clock helpline – 104 or Chennai-based suicide prevention centre Sneha on 044 – 24640050.)

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