Says ‘lesser alternative unquestionably foreclosed’

A Division Bench of the Kerala High Court on Tuesday confirmed the death sentence awarded by the Thrissur Fast Track Court to Govindachami of Tamil Nadu, the sole accused in the Soumya murder case.

The incident took place on February 1, 2011. The prosecution case was that Soumya, travelling in a ladies coach on the Ernakulam-Shoranur passenger train on February 1, was attacked and pushed off the slow-moving train by Govindachami.

The accused also jumped off the train, carried the injured woman to a wooded area near the track at Vallathol Nagar and raped her.

She succumbed to her injuries at the Government Medical College Hospital, Thrissur, on February 6.

The Bench of Justice T.R. Ramachandran Nair and Justice B. Kemal Pasha, while dismissing an appeal filed by the accused against the lower court verdict, observed in its 359-page judgment that it had no hesitation to find this case “as one among the rarest of rare cases in which the lesser alternative is unquestionably foreclosed”.

Allowing a reference by the Thrissur court seeking confirmation of the death sentence, the Bench observed that the incident had sent ‘tremors’ in society and “shook the collective conscience of the community”. The court was not expected “to shut its eyes and close its ears” to the cries of society for justice. This court would be failing in its duty if the maximum punishment prescribed by the law was not imposed on the accused, the Bench said. “It is not to be humane but to be callous to permit him to return to society,” the Bench added.

The Bench observed that it was satisfied that ‘all essential ingredients’ were there to prove the guilt of the accused by circumstantial evidence.

The judges added that all circumstances were fully and cogently established. The chain of circumstantial evidence was complete. The evidence was such as to show that within all human probability, the rape and murder of the victim as well as robbery were committed by the accused and none else.

The Bench also dismissed a petition filed by A.K. Unmesh, Associate Professor, Forensic Department of the Government Medical College Hospital, Thrissur, seeking to expunge remarks made by the Fast Track Court about him. The court made adverse remarks about him as he had deposed that it was he who had conducted the autopsy.

The court pointed out that the evidence clearly revealed that the post-mortem examination was conducted by a team of doctors under the leadership of Shirley Vasu, Head, Forensic Department.

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