The state government and the prosecution are under fire in Kerala after the Supreme Court decided on Thursday to commute the death sentence awarded to the accused in the sensational rape and murder of Soumya, 23, to life imprisonment.  

 

Also read: Soumya murder: Govindachami escapes noose

 

Immediately after the verdict was out, Sumathi, mother of Soumya, blamed the government and the prosecution for their lackadaisical approach to the case. "It is a heartbreaking judgement. Where do I seek justice now," said the inconsolable mother. 

 

"It is a shocking verdict and exposes the prosecution and the Home Department" Congress state chief VM Sudheeran urging the government to take every possible step to ensure maximum penalty to the accused. 

 

Also read: Prosecution fumbles as apex court seeks evidence in Soumya murder case

 

Directly attacking the government for the 'criminal lapse' in the case, BJP state president Kummanam Rajashekharan said that the government could not escape the responsibility. "The government cannot wash its hands of the responsibility by blaming the prosecution alone. The government should have monitored the case effectively," he said. 

 

Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPM) also termed the verdict 'unfortunate.' "The government should immediately file a review petition," CPM state secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan demanded. 

 

Youth Congress workers took out a protest march in Thrissur within hours after the judgement and burnt the effigy of Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan. 

 

But the state Minister for Law, AK Balan defended the prosecution and stated that there was no lapse from the senior counsel in the Supreme Court. The counsel presented all the evidence at hand without fail. But the court gave the benefit of the doubt to the death convict, he added.

 

The Supreme Court cancelled the death sentence given to Govindachami on Thursday by giving him the benefit of the doubt. The prosecution failed to prove beyond doubt that the single-handed vagabond Govindachami killed Soumya by pushing her off the speeding train in February 2011, the court said. 

 

The murder had created outrage in the state and raised grave concern about the safety of women passengers. It also prompted the Railway and the police to increase the security in trains. 



Soumya murder: a timeline

  • 1 February 2011: Soumya,23, was found seriously injured and unconscious in the thickets near Vallathol Nagar Railway Station in Thrissur.
     
  • She was allegedly thrown out of a speeding train by an unidentified man who brutally raped her by dragging her into the bushes. She had suffered grave head injury after falling onto the tracks. But that didn't stop the criminal from sexually assaulting her.
     
  • 3 February 2011: Police take the physically challenged beggar Govindachamy, 30, of Virudhachalam in Cuddalore, into custody.
     
  • 6 February 2011: Soumya succumbed injuries at Medical College Hospital, Thrissur.
     
  • October 31: Thrissur Fast Track Track pronounced the accused guilty under Sections 376 (rape), 302 (murder), 394 read with 397 (causing injury while committing robbery) and 447 (criminal trespass) of the Indian Penal Code.

     
  • 11 November, 2o11:  Thrissur Fast Track Court awarded death sentence to Govindachamy, the lone convict in the case.
  • 17, December 2013:  Division Bench of the Kerala High Court on Tuesday confirmed the death sentence awarded by the Thrissur Fast Track Court to Govindachami.
     
  • 8, September 2016: Hearing an appeal by the convict, Supreme Court asks prosecution whether it has evidence to prove that the single-handed Govindachami committed the murder. The apex court stated that there was evidence to prove rape, but the prosecution should prove beyond doubt the charge of the crime.  But the prosecution fumbled, inviting criticism from the court. 
     
  • 15 September 2016: Supreme Court nullify capital penalty, reduces the punishment to life incarceration.