The Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court has commuted the death sentence imposed on a man from Tenkasi district for the murder of three members of a family in 2016 to 25-year rigorous imprisonment for three counts without any remission.

The convict, N. Muthuraj alias Andavar of Nettoor near Alangulam, murdered G. Petchithai, her daughter G. Mari and Govindasamy, the father of Petchithai, on February 16, 2016. He hacked them to death with a billhook.

On February 12, 2016, Muthuraj had misbehaved with one of the daughters of Petchithai. The girl was a child with special needs. Petchithai lodged a complaint with the police. Following an inquiry, Muthuraj was warned and let off.

An angered Muthuraj hacked to death the three members of the family. The Additional District and Sessions Judge, Tenkasi, imposed the death sentence on him for three counts. The sentence was referred to the High Court for confirmation.

A Division Bench of Justices V. Bharathidasan and J. Nisha Banu observed that the law is well settled that life imprisonment is the rule to which the death sentence is the exception. The death sentence must be imposed only when the life imprisonment appears to be an altogether inappropriate punishment, having regard to the relevant facts and circumstances of the case.

The court observed that death sentence is not warranted in the case. On the other hand imposing life imprisonment subject to remission is also inadequate. Therefore, the court commuted the death sentence to rigorous imprisonment for 25 years for three counts without any remission.

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