Madras High Court orders ‘A’ class facilities in prison to doctor facing death sentence



The Madras High Court has recommended to the State government provision of ‘A’ class facilities in the prison to Tirunelveli-based doctor J. James Sathish Kumar facing capital punishment, imposed by a trial court subject to confirmation by the High Court, for the death of neurosurgeon S.D. Subbiah who was hacked by a gang outside a private hospital at Raja Annamalaipuram in Chennai on September 14, 2013.

A Division Bench of Justices P.N. Prakash and A.A. Nakkiran made the recommendation after taking his profession into consideration. It agreed with his counsel R. John Sathyan that no provision under the Tamil Nadu Prison Rules of 1983 would stand in the way of the court recommending ‘A’ class facilities to a convict by considering his education, social status and living standards.

The judges also took note that a verdict delivered by Sessions Judge S. Alli on August 4, 2021 imposing death sentence on seven out of nine convicts in the murder case had been referred to them for confirmation under Section 366 (no death sentence shall be executed unless it gets confirmed by the High Court) of Code of Criminal Procedure and the referred trial was still pending adjudication along with appeals filed by the convicts.

According to the prosecution, Dr. Subbiah, who had retired from government service in May 2013 and serving in private hospitals, had lodged a land grabbing complaint against P. Ponnusamy of Anjugramam in Kanniyakumari district with respect to 2.25 acres of his land in the village. Hence, Ponnusamy, his wife P. Mary Pushpam and their sons P. Basil (an advocate) and P. Boris decided to kill Dr. Subbiah in order to enjoy the property.

Basil’s advocate friend B. William and his henchman H. Yesurajan too joined the conspiracy. They approached the present petitioner Kumar who was a government doctor based in Tirunelveli district but also involved in real estate and finance business. Stating that the market value of the property in dispute was around ₹10 crore, they promised to give 50% of the share to the petitioner if Dr. Subbiah was eliminated.

The petitioner agreed to the deal and deployed his confidantes E. Murugan, S. Selva Prakash and P. Iyappan, all from Tirunelveli, to hack Dr. Subbiah to death when the latter was approaching his car parked on a public road after attending work at a private hospital in Chennai on the day of occurrence of crime. During the course of trial, Iyappan turned approver. Hence, he was pardoned and made a prosecution witness instead of an accused in the case.

Of the nine accused who were put to trial, the Sessions Court imposed life sentence on Mary Pushpam and Yesurajan. The rest were sentenced to death. “The offence in the present case has been committed in an extremely brutal, grotesque, diabolical, revolting and thus dastardly manner so as to arouse intense and extreme indignation of society. Not a trace of concern or comparison was shown for an aged, defenseless human being,” the trial court wrote.


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