Kumbakonam Fire Tragedy: Madras HC Suspends Conviction, Sentence of 7

Chennai: The Madras High Court on Thursday suspended the conviction and sentence of seven persons in the 2004 Kumbakonam fire tragedy that killed 94 school children and modified the sentence awarded to two others.

The division bench, comprising Justices M Sathyanarayanan and V M Velumani also abated the sentence and conviction in the case of the wife of the school founder, who had passed away. On Thursday, the Madras high court acquitted seven people who had been sentenced to serve varying degrees of jail terms, and then ordered the release of the prime accused founder of Sri Krishna Matriculation School Pulavar Palaniswamy saying the sentence he had already served during the investigation, trial and post-conviction would be sufficient.

As Sarawathi passed away during the period of appeal, the bench abated the charges against her, media reported. The bench also dismissed the appeal filed by the state government against the order of the trial court, acquitting 11 other accused in the case.

The bench also set aside the conviction and sentence awarded by the lower court to Santhana Lakshmi, Principal, Gajalakshmi, noon meal organiser, Jayachandran, engineer, R Balaji, District Educational Officer, Sivaprakasam, personal assistant, Dhandavan, supervisor, and Durairaj, DPE assistant.

A sum of Rs 51.65 lakh fine imposed on him was reduced to Rs 1.16 lakh by the HC.

Around 94 children and a teacher lost their lives and 16 others were seriously injured when a destructive fire brushed off through the Sri Krishna School and Saraswathi Nursery School complex in Kumbakonam on July 16, 2004.

The Bench dismissed the appeal which was given by Vasanthi, the cook and was sentenced to 5 years of imprisonmentyby the trial court, and changed the sentence to one of the period previously undergone.

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