KOCHI: The Kerala High Court on Thursday suspended the execution of the sentence of life imprisonment and granted bail to Fr Thomas Kottoor and Sister Sephy, two convicts in the Sister Abhaya murder case.
A division bench comprising Justice K Vinod Chandran and Justice C Jayachandran issued the order on the petition filed by Fr Thomas Kottoor and Sr Sephy.
The court held that they should be released on bail on the execution of bonds for Rs 5 lakh each. They should not indulge in any crime. The convicts should appear before the investigating officer on all Saturdays for a period of six months and should not leave the state without prior permission from the court.
Sister Abhaya, a Catholic sister, was found dead in a water well in St Pius X Convent in Kottayam on March 27, 1992.
Senior Advocate P Vijayabhanu, counsel for Sephy, submitted that she had been on bail during the investigation and trial periods. She has been serving life imprisonment since December 22, 2020. The petition also said that she was released on bail on January 1, 2009, after being arrested in November 2008. She had not misused her liberty granted by the court. Nor was there any allegation that she had tried to tamper with the evidence or influence the witnesses. If the sentence was not suspended pending the disposal of her appeal, serious prejudice and irreparable injury would be caused to her.
Senior Advocate B Raman Pillai, counsel for Thomas Kottoor, submitted that the trial court sentenced him to life imprisonment though there was no evidence against him. The findings of guilt entered by the trial court are not in conformity with, but rather totally against, the charges framed against him and the other accused. Similarly, the charges framed against the accused are against the prosecution case and allegations. The CBI court committed the fundamental mistake of failing to notice whether it is a case of homicide or not. Regarding the injuries found on the body of Abhaya, there is nothing on record to show that they were inflicted on her by any one of the accused or by them jointly.
The appeal filed by the two convicts seeking to set aside the order CBI Special Court, Thiruvananthapuram awarding the life sentence is pending before the High Court.