The Supreme Court has dropped the murder charges against a retired Army officer who was accused of killing a boy for plucking fruits from his residential compound in Chennai in 2011, Live Law reported on Saturday. Kandaswamy Ramaraj was sentenced to life by a trial court in April 2012, following which the Madras High Court upheld the order in December 2013.

“We are of the opinion that the appellant committed the offence in question whilst he was deprived of the power of self-control upon sudden provocation by the children,” the court said. “...there was no calculated intention or premeditation on his part to commit the murder of the deceased.”

The child, K Dilson, a resident of a slum colony near the Old Fort Glacis Officers’ Enclave at the Island Grounds locality of Chennai, was shot dead on July 3, 2011, when he and his friends went to pick fruits from the Army compound. The murder weapon, a rifle, was recovered from Cooum river in the city following Ramaraj’s confession.

The lower court found him guilty and sentenced him to life for murder and one year of simple imprisonment for other charges. It had also fined him Rs 60,000, of which Rs 50,000 was to be paid to Dilson’s mother as compensation. The Madras High Court in 2013 dismissed the Army officer’s appeal, and upheld the trial court’s order.

“We have no hesitation in concluding that Dilson died of gun shot injuries, and not on account of any other reason,” the court had then said, according to The Hindu. “It is clear that the nature of injuries noted by the doctors cannot happen on account of a person falling from a tree.”

The Supreme Court’s bench of Justices Mohan M Shantanagoudar and Aniruddha Bose observed that it was usual for the children to pluck the fruits. It added that a domestic help of the former officer had testified that Ramaraj was short-tempered and had chased the boys in the past.

The judges sentenced the former Army officer to 10 years’ imprisonment and fined him Rs 2 lakh, adding that failure to pay the penalty would extend his term by three years. Following the recovery of the fine, the money should be given to the parents of the child as compensation, the court added.

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