Gokulraj murder convicts were ‘under the influence of a demon called caste’: Madras HC upholds life sentence

The Division Bench comprising Justices MS Ramesh and N Anand Venkatesh also observed that the case was one of honour killing.

ByVinodh Arulappan

Published Jun 02, 2023 | 5:25 PMUpdatedJun 02, 2023 | 7:16 PM

Gokulraj, (left) and key accused Yavaraj (bottom right).

The Madras High Court on Friday, 2 June, confirmed the life sentence imposed on eight convicts — including the key accused, Yuvaraj — in the infamous Gokulraj murder case.

The Division Bench comprising Justices MS Ramesh and N Anand Venkatesh also observed that the case was one of honour killing.

It said: “The accused in this case were under the influence of a demon called caste” and upheld the lower court judgement, confirming the life sentence — till death without any remission — to the convicts.

The court also altered the charges against two other accused to imprisonment of five years.

Related: Tamil Nadu sees more than 400 ‘dishonour crimes’ in 5 years

The incident

Yuvaraj, leader of the caste-based outfit Dheeran Chinnamalai Peravai, and others who belong to the Kongu Vellala Gounder community went to the Ardhanariswarar Temple in Tiruchengode in the Namakkal district of Tamil Nadu on 23 June, 2015.

There they saw a boy and girl — who were college mates — conversing. Approaching them, they learnt that the girl belonged to their community and the boy, Gokulraj, belonged to a Dalit community.

They sent the girl to her house and abducted the boy. They made the boy record a video statement and write a suicide note that no one was responsible for his death.

The next day, the boy’s severed head and body were found on railway tracks near Pallipalayam in the Namakkal district.

Also read: Only 41 stalking cases in Tamil Nadu in 2021, says NCRB

The legal proceedings

The Tiruchengode police filed a case and arrested the accused. They filed a chargesheet against 15 of the accused in a trial court.

Given the evidence, the court convicted 10 persons — including Yuvaraj — and acquitted five others on 8 March, 2022, as the prosecution failed to prove their involvement in the murder.

Yuvaraj and others subsequently filed an appeal challenging their conviction.

This, even as Gokulraj’s mother V Chitra filed an appeal against the acquittal of five persons by the lower court.

During the proceedings, the judges found that the key eyewitness — the girl who was with Gokulraj but was later sent home — turned hostile.

The court initiated suo motu contempt proceedings on the charges of perjury against her.

The judges also visited the temple in Tiruchengode, from where Gokulraj was abducted, to understand its topography and later inspected the railway tracks where the body was found.