TN: Convicts of Kumbakonam fire that killed 94 children freed

TN: Convicts of Kumbakonam fire that killed 94 children freed

On Thursday, the Madras High Court suspended the conviction and sentence of 7 persons in the 2004 Kumbakonam fire mishap that killed 94 school children and modified the sentence awarded to 2 others.

The division bench, comprising Justices VM Velumani and M Sathyanarayanan also decreased the sentence and conviction in the case of the wife of the school founder, who had passed away.

It reserved its orders on appeals by the accused, as well as that by the state against the acquittals, passed by a lower court in Madurai.

Total 21 accused had been charged under various IPC sections in this incident.

On July 30, 2014, the trial court had acquitted 11 of them and convicted and sentenced the other 10, including Pulavar Palanisamy, the founder of Sri Krishna Matriculation School, to life imprisonment and his wife Saraswathi to 5 years.

As Sarawathi died during the period of appeal, the bench decreased the charges against her.

The Bench which passed orders on the appeals set aside the conviction and sentence passed by the lower court in the case of District Educational Officer R Balaji, engineer Jayachandran, school Principal Santhana Lakshmi, Personal Assistant Sivaprakasam, supervisor Dhandavan, noon meal organiser Gajalakshmi and an assistant Durairaj.

It modified the life sentence awarded to Palanisamy to one of the period already undergone during probe, trial and post-conviction and modified the fine amount to Rs. 1,16,500.

The Bench, which dismissed the appeal by Vasanthi, the cook, who was awarded 5 years imprisonment by the trial court, modified the sentence to one of the period already undergone.

It directed that the bail bonds executed by the accused shall stand end.

On July 16, 2004 a teacher and 94 children were burned to death and 16 others seriously injured when a massive fire broke out through the Saraswathi Nursery School and Sri Krishna School complex in Kumbakonam.

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