Kerala government will file a review petition this week against the recent Supreme Court verdict commuting the death sentence of the convict Govindachami in the controversial Soumya case, State Law Minister A K Balan on Sunday said. “Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi will appear for the state government and would request for an open court hearing in the case,” the minister said in a press meet in New Delhi.
“We are trying to bring the case under the purview of section 302 of IPC,” Balan said, adding that he had on Sunday met the Attorney General in Delhi who had expressed his readiness to conduct the case. Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan also spoke to Rohatgi over phone, he said.
The 23-year-old Soumya was attacked, pushed out of a moving train and brutally raped on February 1, 2011. She succumbed to injuries at the Government Medical College Hospital, Thrissur, on February 6, 2011. The apex court had dropped the murder charge against Govindachami and commuted his death penalty to seven years of jail while upholding the life imprisonment awarded by a trial court on charges of rape.
Balan said the AG would contend in the court to review the case under the ambit of section 302 of the IPC, as section 325 (voluntarily causing grevious hurt) had been invoked by the apex court which itself had recognised one among two major injuries on Soumya’s body as a reason for her death. “The injury number two in the post-mortem report and invoking of section 325 in the case itself can be used to rope in murder charges in the case,” Balan said.
There was widespread criticism in the state over the apex court’s decision with the victim’s mother, Sumathy, stating that it was a “heart breaking” judgment. Meanwhile, Sumathy said she had received an anonymous telephone call threatening that she would have to face dire consequences if she went ahead with the case.
Police said they have recorded her statement which would be filed in court. The state Law Minister also lashed out at the United Democratic Front (UDF) leaders for criticising the government’s “failure” in handling the case. “It was the Oommen Chandy government that appointed the senior advocate Thomas P Joseph as the counsel for the case,” Balan alleged, pointing out the Government Order issued in 2015 by the then UDF government in this regard.
“Prosecution erred in identifying the mystery man who played a major role in influencing the verdict of the case,” the minister said pointing out the prosecution’s reference to an unidentified man who allegedly told the witnesses in the case that Soumya jumped out of the moving train and escaped. The minister also said he would write to the Chief Minister to initiate a probe into the financial sources of advocate B A Aloor, the counsel for Govindachami.
The apex court had discharged Govindachami under section 302 (murder) of IPC, in which the maximum sentence is capital punishment, saying there was no intention on his part to kill the victim but only to sexually assault her by keeping her in a supine position. While dropping section 302 of IPC, a bench comprising justices Ranjan Gogoi, P C Pant and U U Lalit held him guilty for the offence of causing grievous hurt under section 325 of the IPC and awarded seven years rigorous imprisonment which will run concurrently with the life sentence awarded to him.
A Thrissur fast-track court had awarded the lone accused, Govindachami death sentence, considering him a habitual offender. The decision was upheld by the Kerala High Court. However, the apex court, on a petition by the accused, commuted his death sentence.