NEW DELHI: While the common society of Kerala is slowly coming to terms with today's Supreme court division bench verdict setting aside the death sentence awarded to the lone accused in the sensational Soumya murder case, the opposition took cue from it and unleashed a blame game against the state government.
Alleging severe lapses in the conduct of the case by the prosecution in the apex court and the accused eventually escaping the noose, the Opposition UDF and BJP are out to draw political mileage while the Left government is being pilloried, though CM Pinarayi Vijayan has announced plans to file a review petition against the SC order.
New government was not serious enough, alleges former CM Oommen Chandy
Former Chief Minister Oommen Chandy maintained that the Left Government had lost its sense of seriousness in conduct of the murder case, unlike when the UDF government was piloting it.
''I had talked directly to Soumya's mother Sumathi after the brutal incident. Her wish had influenced the conduct of the probe and legal steps were initiated under special teams by the UDF Government. Special public prosecutor A Suresh was appointed on the basis of such discussions," Chandy said.
Oommen Chandy said that in the keenly watched trial of murder case which spanned over seven months, the special public prosecutor and sleuths who had probed the case teamed up with one soul and mind.
''It had its end results. When the accused Govindachami went on appeal against the death sentence awarded to him by the trial court and upheld by the High Court, the UDF Government had issued orders to facilitate assistance of special public prosecutor Suresh to the standing counsel appearing for the prosecution in the supreme court'', he said.
''Such a vigil maintained by the UDF Government was lost in the case later on'' ,Chandy charged,turning the tables on his successor Pinarayi Vijayan and the Left band, which has drawn flak in the wake of the adverse SC ruling for the government in the case.
'Shocking', says Oppositionn leader
Opposition leader Ramesh Chennithala said that he was shocked over the SC verdict repealing the death sentence passed by the Kerala High Court for the accused Govindachami in the Soumya murder case.''It was one of the cases which had immensely pained the conscience of the state.'It was nothing but the grave lapses on the part of the government in the conduct of the case which has led to a verdict like this'',he said,in a statement.
''When the Supreme Court bench asked whether there is any evidence to prove that it was the accused Govindachami himself who had fatally pushed Soumya from the moving train, the pathetic sight of the prosecution fumbling for a reply was evident. In a murder case which had left the entire state wounded and pained, the State Government had acted in an irresponsible manner. What the government has committed is an unforgivably wrong act'', Ramesh criticized.
''What's the reply the government can give for the tears of the people?'' he asked.
According to the opposition leader, the State Government had failed to even present the evidence collected during the tenure of the former government to establish the accused as guilty of the crimes charge-sheeted, even when the High Court had accepted it and sentenced him to death.
''The Left Government speaks very loud on security of women. But in practice, a situation has been created wherein women can be taken for a ride in the state," he underscored.
''The UDF Government had acted vigilantly in the conduct of investigation and court proceedings in the brutal murder case of Soumya. The accused was nabbed within no time and the former government also ensured that he got maximum punishment for the heinous act. Matters turned upside down when the appeal petition of the accused Govindachami came up in the supreme court," Ramesh blamed, pointing out that the prosecution case led by a new standing counsel appointed by the LDF Government was seemingly not bothered to do any home work and the government was even not even aware about when the case was coming up listed for hearing.
He recalled that the UDF Government had appointed an eminent lawyer like Thomas P Joseph, a former judge of the Kerala High Court, to conduct the case in the apex court.
''Three key police officials who had probed the Soumya murder case were drafted to assist him also.The new government didn't utilise the ground set to defend the stand of the state. As for the new standing counsel appointed by the government, he had miserably flopped," Ramesh charged.
Disappointing, examine what went wrong, Kunjalikutty tells government
Terming the apex court verdict as very much disappointing, Opposition deputy leader P K Kunjalikutty has asked the State Government to file a review petition and do a follow up.''The government should seriously examine on what went wrong with the prosecution side in the case and the circumstances which led to it'', he demanded,pointing out that in cruel incidents like the Soumya case, it is only appropriate that the accused got maximum punishment.
Kunjalikutty said that a general feeling has gripped the society on the denial of justice to the murdered Soumya.''It has generated great anxiety as far as the the women society in Kerala is concerned'', he observed.
People may loose confidence in the rule of law, fears Sudheeran
Describing the SC order as a total failure of the state government, Kerala PCC president V M Sudheeran expressed fears that matters are heading for a scenario wherein the people may loose confidence in the rule of law in the state.
''The government could have sought more time in the Supreme Court when the prosecution was asked to produce evidence to establish that it was the accused Govidachami himself who had murdered Soumya.The verdict is the outcome of the ineptitude of the government in presenting the case in a fool proof manner .When everyone is concerned over the security of women,the verdict gives a wrong message'', he felt.
Sudheeran also pointed out that the special prosecutor A Suresh had succeeded in the trial court to prove beyond doubt that Govindachami had raped and murdered Soumya.''The present government and standing counsel should have facilitated discussions between the former special public prosecutor and SC lawyers, before they presented the case of the state on the appeal petition of the accused'',he said.
Kummanam finding: CPM's stand on death penalty guided the prosecution?
BJP state president Kummanam Rajasekharan found a link between the professed stand of the CPM against awarding death penalty to an accused,and alleged that it had a bearing in the diluted stand of the government in the Supreme Court.
''The CPM stand was mixed to arrive at a government line,while the death penalty awarded to the accused Govindachami in the Soumya murder case stands eventually annulled'', he charged,charting a different course as an Opposition party in the state, even when joining hands with the UDF in flaying the government on the issue.