The daylight murder of Shankar in public glare in Udumalpet was among the most horrific caste killings in Tamil Nadu.
The trial court had awarded death sentence to six accused, life term to one and five years of imprisonment to one more accused in the case.
While all the convicts had come on appeal to the High Court, the State too appealed against the acquittal of three more accused including Ms. Annalakshmi, Mr. Pandidurai and one of the alleged hitmen Prasanna alias V. Prasanna Kumar.
The Division Bench led by Justice Sathyanarayanan dismissed the State appeal and allowed the appeal preferred by Mr. Chinnasamy on the ground that neither the charge of criminal conspiracy nor that of murder stood proved against him.
Since he was still in prison, he was ordered to be released forthwith. Appeals preferred by two members of the gang K. Dhanraj alias Tamil alias Stephen Dhanraj and M. Manikandan were also allowed and their life as well as five years of sentences respectively were set aside.
As far as five other assailants P. Jagatheesan (Mr. Chinnasamy’s friend), M. Manikandan, P. Selvakumar, P. Kalaithamilvaanan alias Tamil alias Kalai and M. Mathan alias Michael were concerned, the High Court commuted their death sentences to life imprisonment with a mandate that they would remain in jail for a minimum period of 25 years. They were also ordered to be released forthwith.