Madras HC Upholds 215 Convictions in 1992 Vachathi Gang rapes
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The Madras High Court (HC) upheld the 2011 convictions of 215 people by the Sessions Court in the gang rape of 18 women in Vachathi village, Tamil Nadu, on June 20, 1992, on Friday and directed the state government to compensate each rape victim with Rs 10 lakh.
In 2011, the Sessions Court convicted 215 policemen, forest and revenue officials of raping 18 women and torturing men, seen as silent supporters of bandit Veerappan, in the tribal village during a raid to recover smuggled sandalwood. The Sessions Court had sentenced the convicts to 1-10 years in jail.
Upholding the lower court’s order and dismissing the convicts’ appeal against it, Justice P Velmurugan said, “All the criminal appeals are dismissed as devoid of merits and substance,” adding that “stringent action shall be taken against the then-district collector, superintendent of police and the district forest officer”.
Directing the Tamil Nadu government to pay compensation of Rs 10 lakh each to the rape victims, the court said that 50% of the amount must be recovered from the convicts, LiveLaw reported.
“If the victim is not alive, compensation shall be paid to the relatives,” the Bench ordered. Additional compensation must be paid to the families of three victims who died in the incident, the Court added.
Justice Velmurugan also directed the state to suitably employ victims whose houses were destroyed during the raid. “Government to provide suitable jobs either by self-employment or through any other means to the victims.”
In February, Justice Velmurugan had reserved the verdict on the appeals against the convictions. Subsequently, he decided to visit the village and talk to the villagers before pronouncing the judgment.
Initially, the HC had dismissed a CPI(M) PIL asking it to take up the case and observed that government officials would not committed the crime.
After CPI(M) state secretary A Nallasivan filed a petition before the Supreme Court, the HC was directed to hear the matter as early as possible. In 1995, the HC transferred the probe to the CBI.
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