13 Years After 94 Children Died In Tamil Nadu Fire, All Convicts Freed

On July 16, 2004, a fire started in the thatched-roofed Kumbakonam school's kitchen where lunch was being prepared before spreading quickly to other rooms and floors. Many of the 94 children killed were trapped in a large classroom which had only one exit.

13 Years After 94 Children Died In Tamil Nadu Fire, All Convicts Freed

94 children were burnt alive in the July 2004 fire tragedy in Tamil Nadu's Kumbakonam.

Story Highlights
  • Madras High Court suspended conviction and sentence of 7
  • Fire in a Kumbakonam school in July 2004 killed 94 children and a teacher
  • 21 people, including the school founder and wife, were charged
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 VM Velumani also abated the sentence and conviction in the case of the wife of the school founder, who had passed away.

It reserved its orders on appeals by the accused, as well as that by the state against the acquittals, passed by a lower court in Madurai.

A total of 21 accused had been charged under various sections of IPC in the incident.

On July 30, 2014, the trial court had acquitted 11 of them and convicted and sentenced the other 10, including Pulavar Palanisamy, founder of Sri Krishna Matriculation School, to life imprisonment and his wife Saraswathi to five years.

As Sarawathi passed away during the period of appeal, the bench abated the charges against her.

The Bench which passed orders on the appeals set aside the conviction and sentence passed by the lower court in the case of school principal Santhana Lakshmi, Gajalakshmi, noon meal organiser, engineer Jayachandran, District Educational Officer R Balaji, Personal Assistant Sivaprakasam supervisor Dhandavan and one Durairaj, an assistant.

It modified the life sentence awarded to Palanisamy to one of the period already undergone during investigation, trial and post conviction and modified the fine amount to Rs to Rs 1,16,500.

The Bench, which dismissed the appeal by Vasanthi, the cook, who was awarded five years imprisonment by the trial court, modified the sentence to one of the period already undergone.

It directed that the bail bonds executed by the accused shall stand terminated.

Ninety four children and a teacher were charred to death and 16 others seriously injured when a devastating fire swept through the Sri Krishna School and Saraswathi Nursery School complex in Kumbakonam on July 16, 2004. 
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