The Madras High Court recently upheld the conviction and life sentence handed down by a Sessions Court to a man who had murdered a class 9 girl by setting her ablaze, after she had rebuffed his advances Bar and Bench reported. [Balamurugan vs The State].
A bench of Justices Nisha Banu and Anand Venkatesh of the Madurai bench of Madras High Court said in its judgment that present day youngsters are short on emotional quotient and are prone to taking extreme steps at the slightest of disturbance or rejection.
Therefore, the Judges also called for reforms in the education system in the country by focusing more on young people’s emotional quotient than their intelligence quotient, to prepare them for all emotional challenges that life throws at them.
The bench was hearing an appeal filed by one Balamurugan, 28 years, challenging a September 2019 judgement of the Madurai Sessions court that had convicted and sentenced him to life imprisonment for killing a 14-year-old girl, a student of standard IX, by setting her ablaze in front of her school after she declined his proposal.
“This is yet another case where a man did not have the maturity to accept the rejection of love proposal made to the deceased and hence, decided to kill her in a gory fashion by pouring petrol on her and setting her on fire. This loathsome act was committed by the appellant with the only motive that the girl who did not reciprocate the love proposal made by him, should not live in this world and she should not have any relationship with anybody else in this world,” the High Court said.
The Judges further held that the prosecution had produced a cogent dying declaration of the victim in which she had named the convict, and the eye witnesses, including her friends with whom she was walking towards an auto rickshaw to go back home.
The Court stated that this was yet another case where a man did not have the maturity to understand and respect a fellow human’s choice.
“The present day youngsters fall too short on emotional quotient and even the slightest of disturbance and rejection, makes them take extreme steps without understanding its consequences. It is high time that our educational system starts focusing more on the emotional quotient than on the intelligence quotient,” the Court said.
The Court also elaborated on how thoughtless the actions of the accused were.
“This case requires this prelude since a man aged about 28 years was going behind a girl, who was studying in 9th standard and was expecting her to react positively and get into a love affair and when it did not fructify, he chose to resort to a monstrous act of pouring petrol on the girl and setting her on fire. He did not realise that this foolish act will bring to an end his connections with the society to a grinding halt and will confine him to the prison for his life,” it opined.
The Court further proceeded to say that the constant increase in such cases of men killing or assaulting women for refusing their proposals of marriage or love showed that men continued to consider women not as fellow human beings entitled to her wishes but merely as “chattel,” whom they want to forcibly keep under their control.
According to the judgement, Balamurugan was an air-conditioning repair mechanic. He had harassed the victim on previous occasions and the girl had narrated the incident to her mother after which they had filed a police complaint against him. Balamurugan claimed before the police that he was in love with the victim.
On the day of the tragic incident, Balamurugan stopped the victim from getting inside an auto rickshaw with her friends to return home after school. He began verbally abusing her and after she reiterated that she was not interested in his proposal, he doused her with petrol and set her ablaze using the lighter.
The victim was rushed to a nearby hospital by the auto rickshaw driver. She succumbed to the burns at the hospital 10 days after the incident.
“In the considered view of this Court, we come to a categoric conclusion that the prosecution has proved the case beyond reasonable doubts with abundant evidence and there is absolutely no ground to interfere with the well considered order and judgment passed by the Court below,” the Court said while rejecting Balamurgan’s criminal appeal.
Advocate BN Raja Mohamed appeared for the appellant. Additional Public Prosecutor R Meenakshi Sundaram appeared for the respondents.