Petition seeks to suspend sentence awarded to two accused

Kochi: The Kerala High Court on Tuesday reserved its order on a petition seeking to suspend the sentence awarded to two accused in the case relating to the sexual assault on a girl student of the School of Medical Education (SME) in Kottayam.

Justice V. Ramkumar reserved its order after hearing the arguments on the petition. When the petition was taken up for hearing, Director-General of Prosecution V.G. Govindan Nair opposed the plea of the accused. He argued that if the court suspended the sentence, it would send a wrong message.

The petition was filed by the first accused Ranjith Varghese and the second accused S. Sherin along with an appeal filed against the Kottayam Special Court’s verdict sentencing them to 10 years’ rigorous imprisonment and a fine of Rs.20,000 each.

The prosecution case was that the first year B.Sc. nursing student was sexually assaulted by the accused on the Gandhi Nagar campus of the school on October 21, 2005. The third accused, Sheffeeq Yusuf, was sentenced to three years’ rigorous imprisonment and a fine of Rs.5,000.

Contempt case

A Bench comprising Justice K. Balakrishnan Nair and Justice Joseph Francis reserved its order on the question whether the contempt of court proceedings should be continued against Kerala Kaumudi in the light of the apology submitted by the daily. The Bench had initiated suo motu criminal contempt of court proceedings against M.S. Ravi, printer and publisher; M.S. Mani, editor-in-chief; Deepu Ravi, managing director; and M.S. Madhusoodanan, editor of Kerala Kaumudi, for publishing a front-page editorial regarding the conduct of Justice K. Hema who heard the bail application of the accused in the Sister Abhaya murder case. It was published on December 18, 2008.

In an affidavit, the daily said that the editorial was not intended to interfere with the administration of justice and that if the court felt that the editorial was contemptuous, it tendered unconditional apology.

Plea dismissed

Justice Antony Dominic on Tuesday dismissed a petition filed against the government notification declaring St. Augustine’s Church and St. Mary’s Church at Ramapuram, Pala, as protected ancient monuments. The petition was filed by Vicar of St. Augustine Church Fr. Mathew Narively and two other trustees of the church. The court said that by the petitioners’ own admission, the churches were more than 100 years old and they had antique value. There was no substance in the contention that the opinion formed by the government was erroneous, it added.