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Madras HC confirms twin life terms for 'godman'

N Sathiya Moorthy in Chennai | December 12, 2002 18:51 IST

The Madras high court on Thursday confirmed the twin life terms given by the trial court to Swami Premananda for rape and murder. A division bench comprising Justice P Shanmugam and Justice S Chokalingam said the twin life terms of 16 years each will run consecutively, not concurrently as is the norm.

The bench, however, reduced marginally the hefty fines imposed by Pudukottai District Judge Banumathi and brought it down from Rs 66,40,000 to Rs 61,30,000. The judges said Rs 5,00,000 each of the fine amount will be distributed to the 13 rape victims of Premananda.

Simultaneously, the high court 'increased' the punishment for Swami Kamalananda, Premananda's female accomplice. While the trial court had given her twin life-terms that were to run concurrently, the high court said the terms will run consecutively.

The judges confirmed a two-and-a-half-year jail term for Dr Chandra Devi, who was charged with performing illegal abortions on some of Premananda's victims. They, however, reduced the life terms of three other accomplices, Balan, Nandakumar, and Sathishkumar, to 10 years' rigorous imprisonment. Another accused, Mayilvahanan, who was given a 10-year term, died during the trial.

The Premananda case rocked Tamil Nadu when the Tiruchi police dug up the ashram of the Sri Lanka-born 'godman' at suburban Fatimanagar to find the remains of an engineer-devotee, Ravi. The victim's mother had lodged a complaint that her son was killed, as he was witness to the rape of an ashram inmate. The police identified 13 girls who had been Premananda's victims between 1990 and 1994.

They then filed a case against him in the Pudukottai sessions court. Former Union law minister Ram Jethmalani defended Premananda in the trial court.


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