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SC commutes death to 20-year RI in kidnapping-murder case

The convict, a Tamil Nadu man, Sundar alias Sundararajan, had kidnapped and murdered a seven-year-old boy in 2009 following the inability of the victims’ parents to meet the demand of the ransom of Rs 5 lakh.

Statesman News Service | New Delhi |


The Supreme Court on Tuesday commuted the death sentence of a Tamil Nadu man, Sundar alias Sundararajan, for the kidnapping and murdering a seven-year-old boy in 2009 following the inability of the victims’ parents to meet the demand of the ransom of Rs 5 lakh.

A bench of Chief Justice D Y Chandrachud, Justice Hima Kohli and Justice P S Narasimha upheld the conviction but set aside the death penalty and commuted it to 20 years imprisonment without any reprieve or remission.

The court, in its order, said, “We commute the death sentence imposed upon the petitioner (Sundar alias Sundararajan) to life imprisonment for not less than twenty years without reprieve or remission.”

While upholding the conviction but commuting the deal sentence to 20 years’ incarceration, the court in its order said, “We see no reason to doubt the guilt of the petitioner (Sundar alias Sundararajan ) in kidnapping and murdering the victim. …  However, we do take note of the arguments regarding the sentencing hearing not having been conducted separately in the Trial Court and mitigating circumstances having not been considered in the appellate courts before awarding the capital punishment to the petitioner. “

It further said, “While weighing this argument, the gruesome nature of the crime of murder of a young child of merely 7 years of age has also weighed upon us and we do not find that a sentence of life imprisonment, which normally works out to a term of 14 years, would be proportionate in the circumstances.”

The top court commuted the death sentence and sent the accused to 20-year imprisonment upon a review of the top court’s 2013 order which had upheld the death sentence of the accused.

At the outset of the judgment, the top court noted that Sundar alias Sundararajan had moved the top court for a fresh look at his petition seeking a review of his conviction and the award of the sentence of death on the basis of the top court constitution bench judgment in Mohd. Arif case wherein the court had held that review petitions in death sentence cases must be heard in open court and cannot be decided by circulation.

The top court had in February 2013 upheld the conviction and death sentence of Sundar alias Sundarrajan. However, five years later, in November 2018, the top court agreed to review its verdict of death penalty.

It also directed initiation of contempt of court proceedings against the police inspector of Kammapuram Police Station, Cuddalore District, Tamil Nadu. The court asked him to offer an explanation as to why action should not be taken for the filing September 26, 2021, affidavit prima facie, concealing material information about the conduct of Sundar alias Sundararajan from the top court.

“Notice to the Police officer Cuddalore as to why action should not be taken in pursuance to the affidavit filed in court. Registry is directed to initiate a suo motu contempt case against the officer,” the bench said in its order.

The judgment of the top court came on a review petition filed by Sundarrajan seeking relook at top court’s 2013 verdict which had upheld the death sentence.

The Sardar alias Sundarrajan committed the crime in 2009 when the victim was accosted by him while on his way to school. As per the prosecution the convict informed the boy that his mother and grandmother were not well and he should accompany him to the hospital.

As per the witnesses the boy was last seen alive getting on the motorbike of the convict.

The boy was the sole “male child” of his parents, who were unable to pay Rs 5 lakh ransom for the child’s release. The convict had acknowledged that the boy was strangulated when ransom was not paid for his release and the body was put in a gunny bag and thrown into a water tank.

In 2013, top court, while confirming the death penalty, highlighted that the convict had no value for human life, the manner of murder of an innocent child and disposal of the body showed a brutal mindset.