Biju Radhakrishnan, who became a known face across Kerala following the infamous solar scam, was on Friday acquitted by the Kerala High Court in a case where he was accused of murdering his wife. His mother Rajammal, who was an accused in the case, was also acquitted by the court.
In January 2014, the Kollam District and Sessions Court found Biju Radhakrishnan and his mother guilty for murdering his wife, Reshmi. The court had found Biju guilty under Sections 302 (punishment for murder), 201 (destruction of evidence), 323 (causing hurt), and 498A (husband or relative of husband of a woman subjecting her to cruelty) of the Indian Penal Code.
The Kerala High Court on Friday overturned the verdict of the sessions court by stating that, “This is a case in which there is no direct evidence to prove the commission of murder.” The court stated that the prosecution relies upon circumstantial evidence and went on to explain that if there are no eyewitness to the crime and the case rests on circumstantial evidence, the law suggests a twofold requirement - “First, every link in the chain of circumstances necessary to establish the guilt of the accused must be established by the prosecution beyond reasonable doubt. Second, all circumstances must be consistent only with the guilt of the accused.”
Reshmi was declared dead on February 4, 2006. The prosecution alleged that Biju had picked up a quarrel with Reshmi, following which he hit her on the head. Thereafter, it alleged that he administered Ethyl Alcohol to her while she was unconscious and suffocated her with her dress, which led to her death.
The court observed that the prosecution places much reliance on the testimony of their son, who was a minor, in order to prove the fact that the accused had assaulted his wife and forced her to drink “some form of liquid”. The Learned Counsel, appearing for Biju argued that the evidence of the child witness cannot be believed for more than one reason. “One is that his statement was recorded seven years later, and by the time he was in a position to give any tutored version before court at the instance of his grandparents and police.”
The prosecution had also stated that immediately after it was found that Reshmi had died, both Biju and his mother were absconding, “which itself indicates their involvement in the crime” and that both of them had also not attended the funeral of Reshmi. But the court observed that from the records or from the material documents, “we do not find that the police had in fact searched for the accused at any point of time. No summons or notice has been issued to him during the aforesaid period. Reshmi’s death was considered to be an unnatural death.” The court observed that the scientific evidence available also did not indicate that the death was a homicide.
Meanwhile, the court pointed out that during the investigations, many people close to Reshmi, including her father, her sister and her close friend have testified to the fact that she was being tortured by Biju and his mother. “First of all, those are all information received by them from Reshmi and it is hearsay evidence which is not acceptable by a court of law.”
The court also rejected her father’s claims that he had seen bruise marks on her body by stating that, “at the time of postmortem, no injuries were found on the body of the victim.”
Biju met Reshmi, while the latter was a B.Ed student, who was staying at Biju’s house as a paying guest. They got married in 2001, much against the wishes of Reshmi’s family. Their relationship became strained after Biju allegedly started having an affair with Saritha S Nair, the prime accused in the solar case. The prosecution alleged that Biju had killed Reshmi in order to live with Saritha.