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Criminal Appeal Nos. 1765-1766 of 2019 (Arising out of SLP (Crl.) Nos. 3433-34 of 2019)

Decided On: 26.11.2019

Appellants: V. Rajaram Vs. Respondent: State

Hon'ble Judges/Coram:
R. Banumathi and A.S. Bopanna


R. Banumathi, J.

1. Leave granted.

2. These appeals arise out of the judgment and order dated 21.03.2019 and 25.03.2019 passed by the High Court of Madras at Madurai Bench in Crl. A. (MD) No. 274 of 2011 in and by which the High Court set aside the order of acquittal passed by the Principal Sessions Judge, Madurai in Sessions Case No. 3 of 2009 and convicted the Appellant-Accused No. 17 Under Sections 217 Indian Penal Code and 221 Indian Penal Code and sentenced him to undergo rigorous imprisonment for one year and four years respectively.

3. Brief facts which led to filing of these appeals are as under:

On 09.05.2007, the newspaper Dinakaran carried public opinion results regarding the political heir of the then Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi which suggested that Mr. M.K. Stalin had greater public approval as the political successor of M. Karunanidhi than his elder brother M.K. Alagiri. Protests were staged against the newspaper by the supporters of M.K. Alagiri before the Dinakaran office. Around 10:00 a.m., about fifty persons led by Saravanan, Ex-Secy, Volunteer Wing of DMK came to the office of Dinakaran Newspaper in vehicles and started causing damage to the glass panes of the office and they also started breaking the glass doors with wooden logs. PW-30-Selvaraj-the then Additional Superintendent of Police and the Appellant along with police personnel came to the spot. Under the command, the police present there including the Appellant used force against the agitators and chased them away. Again, the said Saravanan came with a group of people with soda bottles and started pelting the same at the office of Dinakaran Newspaper. The Appellant and other police personnel used force and chased them away. At 11:45 a.m., the supporters gathered before the office of Dinakaran Newspaper. A group of persons (Accused Nos. 1 to 16) led by V.P. Pandi, S/o Ponnusamy @ Attack Pandi, came to the office of the Dinakaran Daily in a white colour Tata Sumo car armed with dandas (sticks) and iron rods. They trespassed into the office and set fire to two wheelers parked inside the compound, near the security office. Thereafter, they vandalised the Dinakaran premises and proceeded to set on fire the reception area. The private security guards on duty were no match to resist the mischief and criminal acts of the miscreants. Three employees of Dinakaran Newspaper-Vinoth Kumar (Deceased No. 1), Gopinath (Deceased No. 2) and Muthuramalingam, security guard, (Deceased No. 3) got stuck in the engulfing fire and have lost their lives in the said incident. On getting information, M. Balasubramanian, Fire Station Officer (PW-50) along with a team of fire service personnel and fire engines went to Dinakaran office at 12 noon and took efforts to douse the fire.

4. On the basis of complaint made by SI-Aladiyan (PW-1), on 09.05.2007, FIR was registered in Othakadai Police Station in Cr. No. 226 of 2007 at 01:00 p.m. Under Sections 147, 148, 449,