Judges utilise free time to draft verdicts in significant cases, educate young lawyers

CHENNAI

HC to deliver verdicts on Udumalpet Shankar, Sterlite cases after lockdown

Mohamed Imranullah S.CHENNAI 14 APRIL 2020 23:43 ISTUPDATED: 14 APRIL 2020 23:43 IST    

Judges utilise free time to draft verdicts in significant cases, educate young lawyers

The nationwide lockdown has provided an opportunity to judges at the Madras High Court to hold webinars for young lawyers on varied aspects of law, update themselves on the latest pronouncements and draft their verdicts in significant cases such as the Sterlite copper plant closure case and the sensational 2016 Udumalpet Shankar murder case.

When the High Court resumes its regular operations once the lockdown is lifted, a Bench of Justices M. Sathyanarayanan and M. Nirmal Kumar will pronounce their judgment on the criminal appeals preferred by six death convicts, one life convict and another imprisoned for five years, for murdering engineering student V. Shankar in 2016.

The final year mechanical engineering student, belonging to a Scheduled Caste, was hacked to death by an armed gang on March 13, 2016, for having married a girl from his college, C. Kowsalya, belonging to Thevar (Other Backward Class) community. The crime was committed reportedly at the behest of the woman’s parents who had hired contract killers.Advertising

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The Tiruppur Principal District and Sessions Court had on December 12, 2017, awarded death sentence to the woman’s father, B. Chinnasamy; his friend P. Jagatheesan; and four other assailants. It, however, acquitted the woman’s mother, C. Annalakshmi; maternal uncle P. Pandidurai; and one of the alleged hitmen, V. Prasanna alias Prasannakumar, from all charges.

While the State had preferred an appeal against the acquittal of all three individuals, the Sessions Court had referred its verdict on death sentences to the High Court for confirmation. Apart from the reference, the death row convicts too had preferred individual appeals. All their cases were clubbed together and heard extensively for nearly a year, since February 2019.

The marathon hearing ended only in February, when the judges reserved their verdict.

The other highly anticipated verdict is on a huge batch of cases filed by Vedanta, a natural resources company that owns the Sterlite copper smelting plant in Thoothukudi. It had challenged the closure of the plant by the State government, citing environmental concerns.

Justices T.S. Sivagnanam and V. Bhavani Subbaroyan had reserved their verdict in the case on January 9. Containing voluminous case bundles running to thousands of pages, the case was argued for months together. It had become a very sensitive issue because of the death of 13 anti-Sterlite protesters in a police firing in Thoothukudi, on May 22, 2018.

Judges who had not reserved their verdicts in any major case before the lockdown have been utilising the free time to educate young lawyers on advocacy and various branches of law. Justice N. Anand Venkatesh has so far penned a few articles on law and delivered lectures online. His next webinar on the Indian Evidence Act has been scheduled for Thursday.

“His lectures have been very useful for the lawyer community. The lockdown has provided a golden opportunity for judges to share their knowledge with young lawyers, almost on a daily basis,” said advocate S. Srinivasa Raghavan.

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