Reacting to the SC verdict on Thursday commuting convict Govindachamy’s death sentence to a life imprisonment in the infamous Sowmya murder case that had rocked Kerala in 2011, Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan has reiterated that the LDF government will submit a review petition at the earliest in this regard.
Following is the rough translation of the text of the CM’s statement in Malayalam that was released to the media:
“We plan to file a review petition against the Sowmya murder case verdict at the earliest. And for this, we will see to it that brightest legal minds and advocates of the nations are made available to fight the case on the behalf of Sowmya’s family.
The Supreme Court verdict has stunned all those endowed with a conscience. Both the trial and the High Courts had considered every aspect of the case, before delivering their verdict of a death sentence. Several clinching evidence including forensic ones were presented before the court.
The presence of the torn remnants of the convict’s skin under Sowmya’s fingernails and other similar evidence had proved Govindachamy’s guilt beyond any doubt.
Based on these, the trial court had pronounced its judgement. But the Supreme Court verdict now seems to question the veracity of the evidence that was recognized by the trial court.
The verdict cannot be deemed a punishment for this grave crime. On the contrary, it is one which haunts the human conscience and does not make sense to anyone endowed with even the semblance of common sense.
It is but right to view this verdict -along with Sowmya’s mother and the rest of society- as a gross miscarriage of justice for the cruel end that Sowmya had to suffer. The government, while taking into consideration this wholly justified viewpoint, has hence decided to file a review petition at the earliest to ensure justice in this regard.
We shall do our utmost to comfort and console Sowmya’s grieving mother in every way possible, by meeting up with her, as the government is bound to ensure justice for Sowmya.
The Govindachamys who pose a societal threat to womankind as a whole cannot be allowed to take advantage of legal loopholes to get away with their crimes. And the government will take all possible measures to ensure this does not happen.”
Speaking to the media, former Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy said that the previous UDF government had vigilantly handled the Sowmya murder case and that he had personally seen and spoken to Sumathi -Sowmya’s mother- at that time.
Chandy said that it was after having taken into account Sowmya’s mother’s requests for justice for her daughter that his government had appointed advocate A Suresh as the Special Public Prosecutor in the case.
For the entire duration of seven months that the case took in the trial court, the Special Public Prosecutor and the police investigation team worked in absolute tandem, Chandy remarked.
When Govindachamy filed an appeal in the Supreme Court against the capital punishment that was handed down to him by the lower courts, the UDF government had also made arrangements for Advocate Suresh to assist a senior counsel of the Supreme Court to ensure justice for Sowmya, Chandy added.
He also went on to allege that it was only later that the vigilant attitude adopted by the UDF government in the case was deliberately allowed to fizzle out.
Twenty-three-year-old Soumya -who worked as a salesgirl- was returning home by the Ernakulam-Shoranur passenger train on February 1, 2011.
One-handed Govindachamy -who routinely frequented trains to beg- entered the ladies’ compartment where she was, robbed and attacked her. Soumya’s body was later found in the forests near the Vallathol railway station.
The prosecution’s case was that Govindachamy pushed her off the train, took her to the wooded area, and then raped and murdered her.
Govindachamy, then 30, was convicted of rape and murder on October 31, 2011, and sentenced in November by a Thrissur fast-track court.
The court ruled that the case was fit to be called as the rarest of rare and pronounced capital punishment. Subsequent appeals in the Kerala High Court also upheld that Govindachamy had raped and murdered her.
The Supreme Court, however, held that the prosecution could not prove whether Govindachamy had pushed her off the train or whether she fell off.
Hence, it held that he was not guilty of murder, and his sentence was commuted to life imprisonment.