The four accused in the Bhaskara Karanavar murder case, including Karanavar's daughter-in-law, Sherin, were sentenced to life imprisonment by the Mavelikara Additional Sessions Fast Track (ad-hoc) court here on Friday.

Reading out the judgment to a packed courtroom, judge N. Anil Kumar said the first accused Sherin would have to undergo life imprisonment on three counts and pay fine of Rs.85,000 and undergo concurrent rigorous imprisonment of three-and-a-half years if she failed to pay the fine. The other three also were handed out similar sentences, with a slight change in the fine, each to pay a total of Rs.80,000 and in case of default, to undergo three-and-a-quarter years rigorous imprisonment.

The court observed that though the crime was serious and heinous and the conduct of the accused “apprehensive” with Karanavar being murdered while asleep, it was not inclined to term the case as one among the “rarest of rare cases.” The circumstances drove the court to deem life imprisonment, and not death, as a fitting punishment, the judge said, adding that the age and the family background of the accused, along with the fact that they were not involved in any other crime, were considered while deciding upon life imprisonment.

Sherin was awarded life imprisonment on three counts, including those for murder, abetting the crime and conspiracy while the other three accused, Basith Ali, Nidhin alias Unni and Shanu Rashid, were awarded life imprisonment for murder, conspiracy and also under IPC Section 449 (trespassing into house to commit offence punishable with death), for which the court awarded them rigorous imprisonment for 10 years, all to run concurrently. All four were remanded to the Thiruvananthapuram Central Jail.

Defence lawyers Suresh Babu Thomas, Suresh Mathai, V.K. Ajith, Suraj M. Kartha and T.O. Naushad, among others, said they would file an appeal in the High Court on Monday.

Special Public Prosecutor K.M. Rajagopala Pillai, talking to The Hindu, said this was the fastest verdict, delivered within seven months of the offence, that he had witnessed in his 48-year-long career. Assisted by Additional Special Public Prosecutor Sunil Maheswaran Pillai and T.N. Sadashivan Nair, Mr. Pillai was also the SPP for the Kanichukulangara murder case, for which the verdict came in nine months and 16 days.

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