The Supreme Court on Thursday confirmed the death sentence awarded to a man from Coimbatore for gang-raping a 10-year-old school girl along with a co-accused and later killing her and her seven-year-old brother.Terming as "shocking and cold-blooded" the crime committed in Coimbatore in 2010, a three-judge bench headed by Justice R F Nariman by a majority of 2:1, upheld the death penalty awarded by the trial court and the Madras High Court to Manoharan, saying the offence fell under the "rarest of rare" category.
His co-accused Mohana Krishnan died in a police encounter shortly after the incident which shocked Coimbatore in what was a kidnap for ransom that later turned into rape of the girl and her murder and her brother.Their bodies, with hands tied, were later found in the Parambikulam and Aayilar Project (PAP) canal. The girl and her brother were abducted by van driver Manoharan and call taxi driver Mohana Krishnan the children from outside a temple in October 2010 when they were on their way to school. After gang raping the girl, the two poisoned her and her brother. As they did not die, they were thrown into the canal in Udumalpet near Coimbatore.
Justice Nariman, writing the judgement for himself and justice Surya Kant, said: "We have no doubt that the trial court and High Court have correctly applied and balanced aggravating circumstances with mitigating circumstances to find that the crime was committed in cold blood and involved the rape of a minor girl and murder of two children in the " most heinous fashion possible."
The bench took note of the intent of the legislature in amending the POCSO Act recently and said, "there can be no doubt that today's judgment is in keeping with the legislature's realisation that "such crimes are on the rise and must be dealt with severely".The court noted that amended POCSO Act provides for death penalty or imprisonment up to 20 years or for the remainder of the life of the offender.
The majority judgment of Justice Nariman and Surya Kanth said the convict had shown no remorse and there deserved the maximum punishment.The third judge Khanna said there was no doubt that the crime was “brutal, ruthless and cruel” and the deserved severe punishment given the trauma the children must have undergone the agony caused to their parents and grandparents. However, balancing the aggravating and mitigating circumstances, the judge felt imprisonment for the rest of the life of the convict would be just punishment.