Srimathi Advt Mhc: Sekar I can send some old trial cases interested ? [4/5, 08:35] Srimathi Advt Mhc: FAMOUS TRIALS PART III. ALAVANDAR MURDER CASE

[4/5, 08:34] Srimathi Advt Mhc: Sekar I can send some old trial cases interested ?
[4/5, 08:35] Srimathi Advt Mhc: FAMOUS TRIALS PART III


It happened in a place which is famous for the best pens – GEM & Co., – well atleast just outside it. Many lawyers, Judges and the celebrities of Madras buy pens from. Even today it is the best penshop and many of us buy real good stuff from here. The stage for our murder mystery begins here ….


In August 1952 , The HINDU” carried a short news that a “City Businessman Missing” The previous day a complaint had been made at the Law College police station in Esplanade, Madras by the wife of the businessman by name Alavandar .


The missing man was in his early forties, had worked as Sub-Divisional Officer (SDO) at the Army Headquarters at Avadi near Madras during the Second World War . He belonged to the Hindu Vysya community also known as Komati Chetty.
a Telugu-speaking community , traditionally businessmen and wealthy.

After his discharge from the British Indian Army service he approached Sri.M.C.Cunnan Chetty and wanted to start some business. Alavandar though he belonged to the Komati Chetty Community was not rich. Alavandar thought he would start a business in plasticware – colorful and light, inexpensive. Being from the same community Cunnan Chetty permitted him to have a small shop in front of his pen company to display his wares. He also embarked on another business of selling saris on installments basis.

Alavandar was married and had two children yet fancied himself to be quite a ladies man. Alavandar at the time he went missing was was 42 years old though not dashing or great looking he used to dress in a very smart and why offer in Spencers and sarees and plastic manner. Women used to folk the shop to buy plasticware and cheap pens and in a way to attract women Alavandar devised the method of selling sarees in installment method. This made him popular when the women immediately or missed installments he used to extract the payments by physical relationship.


On 29th August 1952 Inspector Ramanathan @ Esplanade Police Station received a complaint from a lady the wife of Alavandar that her husband had not come home . The fact that the business man had gone missing was reported in all leading newspapers.

The Inspector enquired with Sri. Cunnan Chetty the owner of Gem and company , Venkat Rangan a politician , other employees who all mentioned that Alavandar was seen talking to Devaki Menon on 28 August .


On 29th August the passengers complained to the ticket collector who entered the III Class Compartment of the Indo-Ceylon Boat Mail of a green trunk from which the pungent, putrescene smell was emanating. The ticket collector alongwith the station master and station police at Manamadurai Station saw that the green metal trunk had pools of blood around it. When the box was opened it was a ghastly sight.,


Macabre!!! A headless human body , severed legs and arms and the flesh was rotting. Humidity and heat adding to the decomposition the smell of rotting flesh. When the foul smelling TRUNK was opened was a ghastly sight ., when the train was nearing Manamadurai. Police investigating the complaint, opened the trunk and found the headless body.


An autopsy done at Manamadurai concluded that the body belonged to a 25-year-old male. Based on the circumcision the investigating police officer K.Khaja Syed Mohideen decided that the deceased was a Muslim based on Circumcision . The postmortem revealed injuries. The left side of the chest was having stab injuries. The penis revealed circumcision, a black waist thread and the green socks. Whose corpse could it be ???


Well as we read above, Ramnatha iyer the Inspector at Esplanade Police Station read the news of the dismembered body in a green trunk. He had a hunch that possibly the body could be that of the missing Alavandar. He had also tracked Devaki Menon’s residence which was 62, Cemetery Road, Royapuram.

When he went there the house was empty. He was told Devaki and her husband Prabhakara Menon had vacated and left town. Inspector Ramanathan meanwhile went around the neighborhood and questioned the neighbors, Arumugham a rickshawpuller who informed that Prabhakara Menon had hired his rickshaw. He was carrying a pumpkin like object and threw it into the sea at Bowekuppam at Royapuram Beach.

Inspector Ramanathan also entered the empty house of the Menons . The kitchen looked like as if it was a slaughterhouse. Blood stains on the walls , the floor and overall. pointing to the fact something gory had taken place.

On 31st August at 4.00 p.m. Jayaraman a constable while on his ” beat” on the beach at Royapuram noticed a strange object tossed up by the waves. It was a Head !!!


Inspector Ramanathan immediately requested for the torso to be brought to Madras. The head and torso were handed over for investigation to Dr.K.C. Jacob and Dr. C.P.Gopalakrishnan.

The medical team arrives at a finding the head belonged to the body . – there was a CERVICAL VERTEBRA MATCH !!! As the deceased was working in military service his service records were examined which detailed described the height as 5’4.5″ . the finger prints matched too. The stomach analysis revealed opium .

Alavandar ‘s wife was called on to identify. She identified the body to be that of her husband’s ” his black overriding upper canine tooth waist thread, two holes right earlobe, circumcision and the green socks”


Inspector Ramanathan very quickly tracked the servant boy a boy who was all of 13 years K.T.Narayanan. The boy had run away from home in Coimbatore and was working for the Menons. Thereafter Inspector Ramanathan also met Raman Menon father of Devaki. The Inspector on learning that the Menons had left for Bombay through Mysore drove to Bangalore. The Menons had gone there to get their salary dues. On ascertaining that they had moves to Bombay he took a flight to Bombay.

He was able to track down Prabhakara Menon. Apparently Prabhakara had approached his relative Subedar Nair to get an employment who arranges for an interview with one K.S.Alva and he gets a job with BICC Bombay – the British Insulated Cables. Inspector Ramanathan with the help of the Bombay Police Clark and Jaffer . A case of Homicide is booked, he arrested Menon on 13th September 1953 in the home of Subedar Major Nair. Devaki was hospitalized as she had suffered an abortion and was later taken into custody on 22nd September and they were brought back to Madras.


In August 1951 Alavandar meets Devaki Menon. An unmarried girl 22 years of age. She is living with her parents in Adam Saheb Streer . A Hindi teacher . She met Alavandar when she had gone to Gem and Co to buy a pen. Alavandar being the “man of the World” had enticed her and later seduced her at Hotel Crown at Broadway.

In May 1952 Devaki met Prabhakara Menon a clerk in the Premier Insurance company. It was a fairly good job. He was paid a good salary and also was provided with a company car. being ambitious he switched jobs and joined as an Editor at Freedom a newspaper.

Devaki and Prabhakara Menon got married in June 1952. hardly a month of their meeting. They set up a home in 62, Cemetery Road, Royapuram. They employ K.T.Narayanan the 13 year old boy for cooking and cleaning. Prabhakara Menon after joining the new employment meets Alavandar and seeks his help in procuring advertisements for the newspaper.

Alavandar meets Devaki and demands sexual favours as a return for the advertisements he has given for “Freedom ” and he threatens Devaki and takes her to Metcantile Hotel. Devaki escapes from Alavandar”s clutches. Meanwhile when Prabhakara Menon meets Alavandar certain references he makes to Devaki kindles suspicion in Prabhakara Menon’s mind. He confronts Devaki , initially she denies any relationship but however on 27th August when the husband and wife go to watch a movie at Minerva Theatre Devaki breaks down and confesses to the relationship she had prior to the marriage with Alavandar. She also tells her husband how Alavandar tried to force her into having physical relationship. The very angry husband tells Devaki to bring Alavandar home.


On 28th August Devaki meets Alavandar and they were talking for sometime, thereafter Devaki left and she was followed by Alavandar. The man informs the people at the shop that he will be back in an hour or so. -( little did he know that it will be a ” no return” journey.)

Alavandar sets off to 62, Cemetry Road where he tried to molest Devaki in the hall at which time an enraged Prabhakara Menon rushes in , he orders Devaki out of the room. Alavandar gets stabbed in his lung and liver. It was the statement made later that during the fisticuffs the stab was self inflicted. Alavandar also bit Menon’s hand. Alavandar fell down. But did he die then ???


As we read earlier the servant boy engaged by the Menons earlier , gave a statement that he heard the Menons on the night of 27th August. Devaki was sobbing and Prabhakara was angry. KT Narayanan heard Prabhakara tell Devaki to bring Alavandar home so that he could ” finish him off “.

The accused gave a version that Alavandar had followed Devaki and Prabhakara who just returned home on seeing him try to molest Devaki entered into a duel of sorts in which Alavandar unwittingly stabbed himself and the death.


The prosecution was led by Late Sri Govind Swainathan .


The prosecution laid the case that the death of Alavandar was not by chance rather it was premeditated and cold bloodied. Prabhakara asks Devaki to lure Alavandar home on 28th August.


Let’s replay the events of 28th ?

@ 9.00 A.M.
Prabhakara calls the servant boy tells him to take the day off. have a vacation of sorts.
He gets a knife from Khader Mohideen at about 9.00 a.m.

@ 10.00 AM

Takes off from office tells Narayanan to go see the city and walks to the Chotta Saheb’s shop nearby and buys Vimto a soft drink which contains the juice of grapes, raspberries and blackcurrants, flavoured with herbs and spices.

Now did they plan to lace the drink ???

@ 11.00 AM

Devaki goes to Gem and Co , seen talking to Alavandar and leaves by around 12.00

@ 12.00

Alavandar follows Devaki in an autorickshaw informing his staff he will be back by an hour or so.

@ 12.30 pm

Alavandar reaches 62 Cemetery Road taps on the door which is opened by Devaki.

Well what happened thereafter.

Did Prabhakara enter thereafter- couldn’t be. Because he was already in the home laying wait for Alavandar.

Alavandar was stabbed in his left side . The liver and lung bore the injuries and he fell down. But apparently he did not die then. Devaki was ordered to leave the room and post 12.30 PM seems to have been a session in anatomy . Alavandar’s body was dismembered. The head removed and the arms and legs removed from trunk. The entire sequence premeditated.

@ 4.00 PM

Prabhakara Menon left in Arumugham’s rickshaw with the head and tossed it in the Corporation Garbage Dump near the Royapuram Beach. As for the remnants of the body they were placed in the green trunk and dropped it at Egmore station in the Indo-Ceylon Boat Mail.

In the meantime the tell tale marks are washed off with a Lux soap and the couple leave the home and drop off all the belongings at Raman Menon , father of Devaki and head off to Bangalore and from there to Bombay.


The case went on the original criminal jurisdiction of the Madras High Court

The issue to be decided was whether it was a culpable homicide not amounting to murder or a murder.


The judge was Sri.A.S.P AIYER. a well read and distinguished person. He was the first ICS officer from Madras. ( His son is Sri.A.P.Venkatedwaran the diplomat whom Rajiv Gandhi brashly handled and the good man resigned with honour ) Now Ayilam Panchapakesan Iyer had his education at Oxford . He wrote Bhagvad Geetha for the Layman, Three men of destiny also a novel Baladitya a romantic novel. He was denied promotions by the British and remained a District Judge for a very long tenure. Post Independence he was elevated and was the first permanent Indian Chief Justice of the Madras High Court.


Alavandar was portrayed as a Casanova and the womanizer was stalking a married women. harassing and beseeching her to renew their relationshipThe Jury arrived on a conclusion that it was culpable homicide.


Prabhakara and Devaki were sentenced to seven years and three years of imprisonment.

And they completed their respective sentence though initially Prabhakara wanted to appeal against the verdict his counsel noted criminal advocate B.T. Sundararajan advised against it. Telling him he got off lightly.


  1. One should really appreciate Inspector Ramanathan but for whose unstinting efforts the mystery of the missing man would not have been solved.
  2. The forensic analysis of Dr.K.C. Jacob and Dr. C.P.Gopalakrishnan. Whose efforts for the cervical matching is simply mindblowing. They had also for the analysis got a plaster of paris mould to match with Alavandar to arrive at the conclusion and Gemini Studios helped make one.
  3. Devaki was as per statement of both not at the scene when Prabhakara and Alavandar got into the fight. She did not witness and was asked to leave. She turned down the offer of a lesser sentence if she gave evidence against her husband . She said her husband had protected her honour.
  4. The lesson in anatomy is something of interest here. The cervical matching – of the Head and Torso. The cuts the removal of the legs and arms was neat. It was allegedly done by the Malabar knife or what would be called a meat cleaver. Menon was just a clerk and most certainly a work of such precision is beyond him . The work is that of an expert . There was the floor flooded with blood and one cannot imagine a person of Menons calibre to have handled it all by himself. I saw the picture of the dismembered body and think it is far beyond Menon to have done that. The torso has been handled with precision the removal of the limbs precise. So who was the others ….an expert in anatomy? Perhaps…
  5. Also the time factor – if Alavandar was overpowered and killed at 12.30 or thereabouts. 3 hours in all to clinically handle the dismemberment. To go out get a green trunk, go to Egmore and drop off the Trunk of the Headless Torso , come back take the head and throw it off into the dump. Wash and clean the house and clothes and all the while the neighbors did not notice anything amiss ????

Were there more than TWO ??? Super

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