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2018 Kevin Joseph murder: Case proceedings a lesson in legal studies

Backed by circumstantial, scientific and digital proof, prosecution proved murder without eyewitness accounts and sufficient oral evidence.

Published: 28th August 2019 02:31 AM  |   Last Updated: 28th August 2019 02:31 AM   |  A+A-

Syanu Chacko, who was convicted in Kevin murder case, coming out of the Principal District and Sessions Court, Kottayam, after hearing the verdict

Syanu Chacko, who was convicted in Kevin murder case, coming out of the Principal District and Sessions Court, Kottayam, after hearing the verdict | Express

By Express News Service

KOTTAYAM:  With the Principal District and Sessions Court, Kottayam, awarding a befitting sentence to culprits in the sensational abduction and murder of Dalit Christian youth Kevin P Joseph, the case, its investigation, trial and court proceedings have found a place in the history of legal affairs in the state.

Perhaps, this is the first time that a murder has been proven beyond any doubt despite the absence of eyewitnesses and sufficient oral evidence. The probe team led by DySP Girish P Sarathy and prosecution solely depended on circumstantial, scientific and digital evidence to prove the crime. “Relying completely on circumstantial evidence, the prosecution proved the crime unquestionably,” said public prosecutor CS Ajayan.

Besides crucial scientific evidence thrown up by postmortem findings, the investigation team collected as much as digital evidence like phone calls, DVDs and CCTV visuals, most of which were unchallengeable. “The Supreme Court and High Courts have, on several occasions, directed the police to switch to scientific evidence. This case is a good example of deviating from the conventional method. We produced as much scientific evidence as possible. CCTV visuals of the movements of vehicles involved in the crime and video records of taking the body from knee-deep water at Chaliyekkara stream proved vital. Such evidence can’t be challenged,” Ajayan said.

Digital evidence are prone to manipulation.To rule this out, the probe team and prosecution submitted them with the testimony of forensic lab experts and cyber experts, who were also examined during the trial.Kevin’s father Joseph welcomes verdictThough not completely satisfied with the trial court’s verdict, Kevin’s father Joseph Jacob alias Rajan welcomed the punishment awarded to the 10 convicted persons. He said he would appeal against the acquittal of Chacko John, father of Kevin’s fiancée Neenu Chacko.

“We expected some of them would get capital punishment. However, the court limited it to life imprisonment. Still, I am satisfied. We hope the government, present or future, won’t give any remission to the guilty after the statutory period of imprisonment ends,” he said. Joseph also thanked the police and other government agencies for their cooperation.

On Chacko John’s acquittal, Joseph said he should have been put behind bars. “The investigation had clearly pointed to Chacko’s role in the crime but he managed to escape for the time being,” he said.
Neenu could not be reached for response. As per a television channel, she had said let the guilty serve sentence for their acts. 

Completely satisfied, says prosecutor

Ajayan said he was completely satisfied with the verdict. “Charges of the prosecution were accepted by the court. It was a herculean task to ensure punishment for 10 out of 14 accused in the case,” he said.

Offences and quantum of punishment

IPC Section 302: Murder 

  • Life imprisonment and a fine of Rs 25,000 for all guilty persons 
  • In default of remitting fine, an additional one-year simple imprisonment

Section 364 A: Abduction 

  • Life imprisonment and a fine of Rs 25,000 for all guilty persons 
  • In default of remitting fine, an additional one-year simple imprisonment

Section 449: House trespass

  • 5-year rigorous imprisonment and a fine of Rs 5,000 to Niyasmon, Riyas Ibrahimkutty, Manu Muraleedharan, Shifin Sajjad, N Nishad, Tittu Jerome, Fazil Sherif alias Appus and Shanu Shajahan. 
  • In default of remitting fine, an additional one-month simple imprisonment.

Section 506: Criminal intimidation

  • 3-year rigorous imprisonment to all the guilty. 

‘Unchallengeable’

The probe team collected digital evidence like phone calls, DVDs and CCTV visuals, most of which were unchallengeable

IPC Section 120 B: Conspiracy 

  • No separate punishment to Syanu, Niyasmon and Ishan Ismayil

Section 427: Mischief causing damage 

  • One-year rigorous imprisonment and a fine of Rs 5,000 to Niyasmon, Riyas Ibrahimkutty, Manu Muraleedharan, Shifin Sajjad, N Nishad, Tittu Jerome, Fazil Sherif alias Appus and Shanu Shajahan.
  • In default of remitting fine, an additional one-month simple imprisonment.

Section 342: Wrongful confinement 

  • Six-month rigorous imprisonment to Niyasmon, Riyas Ibrahimkutty, Manu Muraleedharan, Shifin Sajjad, N Nishad, Tittu Jerome, Fazil Sherif alias Appus and Shanu Shajahan

Section 323: Voluntarily causing hurt

  • Six-month rigorous imprisonment to Nishad and Shanu Shajahan

Section 201: Causing disappearance of evidence of offence 

  • 3-year rigorous imprisonment and a fine of Rs 5,000 to Shifin Sajjad. In default of remitting fine, simple imprisonment for one month.  
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