KOCHI: Kochi: A day after the Supreme Court commuted the death penalty of Govindachami, the sole convict in the Soumya murder case, the Left in Kerala has found itself caught in an ideological war of its own making.
On one hand, the CPM-led state government announced its plans to seek a review or revision of the Supreme Court verdict and seek the death sentence for the convict. However, this is contrary to the Left’s pre-declared stand against capital punishment, which had them pitching for legislation to remove the death penalty from the Constitution.
CPM Politburo member M A Baby, a staunch opponent of capital punishment, stated that the Left was against the death penalty. “In general, the Left is opposed to capital punishment and we feel it should be removed from our system and Constitution through legislation.
“The Left believes that capital punishment is highly primitive and should be done away with,” said Baby. “This is not a specific stance for Govindachami alone. We would have held the same view even if Nathuram Vinayak Godse, who killed Mahatma Gandhi, was on trial today.”
Rejecting Baby’s view, Kerala’s Law Minister and CPM Central Committee member A K Balan said: “We will approach the court seeking maximum punishment under Section 302 (murder). There is no point in going for life imprisonment for Govindachami, as he has already been sentenced for a life term once,” said Balan. Despite their opposite views, both Baby and Balan reiterated that there was no contradiction in the stance of the party and the Kerala government on the issue. Balan added that the party and the government are seeking death for Govindachami considering the grave crime he committed. Balan, who is in Delhi to attend a three-day CPM Central Committee meet, will meet legal experts on what the immediate and best mode of approach in the court will be—to finalise whether the government should file a review petition or a revision petition. Since capital punishment is only for rarest of rare offences, the government’s attempt will be to ensure the court awards punishment to Govindachami for murder, too.
As if sensing the dilemma within Left parties, BJP state chief Kummanam Rajsekharan lambasted the government, accusing it of foul play. Meanwhile, CPM state secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan tried to downplay the controversy, insisting that there was no irony in the matter.
“The CPM has demanded that Govindachami be given maximum punishment as per the existing law. As of now, there is capital punishment in the law. Hence, the government will demand the same,” he said. “The Left’s stance is not specific to this particular case. There is no need to link the two.”
The CPM had finalised its stance on doing away with capital punishment after earlier discussions within its Politburo and Central Committee.
Govt on Lookout for Senior Counsel
Kochi: The state government is on the lookout for a senior counsel to initiate further proceedings in the Supreme Court in the Soumya rape-murder case, Advocate General C P Sudhakara Prasad said here on Friday. “The government will file a review petition or curative petition once a senior counsel has been identified and his opinion sought,’’ Prasad said. A review plea can be moved only on the ground of an error on the face of the record while the provision for curative petition can be used to point out some substantial lapses in judgment. Legal experts, though, said the success rate of review petition and curative petition was extremely low. “There will be no Open Court hearing. Only after verifying documents, the court decides whether it is to be heard in Open Court or not. It will be the same Bench, which pronounced the judgment that considers these petitions, said senior lawyer advocate Kaleeswaram Raj.
Balan Vows Gallows for Accused
Thiruvananthapuram: The state government will take a final decision on whether to file a review or revision petition after discussions with the CM, Advocate General and other experts, Law Minister A K Balan said. He said they will go to any extent to ensure that Govindachami is hanged till death. Calling the Supreme Court verdict unfortunate, Balan said the CM has stated that the government will en sure that the services of the best legal brains were availed. “The government is approaching the apex court seeking to restore the death penalty for Govindachami. He should be given the capital punishment at least 100 times,” Balan said.
Chandy Seeks LDF Govt’s Apology
Thiruvananthapuram: Former Chief Minister Oommen Chandy has sought an apology from the LDF government to the people for “serious lapses” in the Soumya murder case in the Supreme Court. “The SC verdict has shocked entire Kerala. The shortcomings in effectively intervening in the course of the conduct of the case has been pointed out as the reason for such a verdict,’’ he said, while also insisting that the government should take immediate corrective measures. “The death sentence awarded to the accused… was the result of five years of hard work and sense of justice, which guided the probe team and the counsel.”