KOCHI: If anyone still doubts the speed at which papers move in government offices, here’s another classic example. The Kerala government recently dismissed a request to repeal the life imprisonment of a 37-year-old Angamaly woman convicted in a 2016 case of killing her eight-year-old son.
But there's a twist: A division bench of the Kerala High Court had acquitted Teena Baiju of the charges in February. Simply put, the government is unaware of this even two months after the court order.
It was on February 16 this year that a division bench comprising Justice K Vinod Chandran and Justice C Jayachandran acquitted Teena on her appeal petition.
On April 29, however, the Kerala Government Order (GO) issued by the home department stated that the request for remission of the sentence as per Section 131 of Kerala Criminal Rules of Practice by Teena has been rejected. She had been sentenced to life imprisonment by the Ernakulam Additional District and Sessions Court on November 20, 2020, after convicting her of murder and attempt to commit suicide.
The incident related to the case happened on April 30, 2016. Following a domestic discord with her husband, Teena administered five sleeping pills to her son. Later, she cut the vein on her right wrist and consumed a pesticide to die by suicide. During trial, the court observed that Teena’s husband used to torture her after consuming alcohol.
When Teena filed an appeal against the Additional Sessions Court verdict at the High Court, she also sought a provision for remission of the sentence. Based on it, the government sought reports from the authorities concerned including the district probation officer, Ernakulam.
Granting remission will send wrong message: SP
The probation officer, in his letter to the home department on November 29, 2021, favoured her release claiming Teena’s husband Baiju is willing to accept her back. However, the Ernakulam Rural SP, in his report dated December 3, 2021, said granting remission to Teena will send out a wrong message to society.
The Director-General of Prisons and Correctional Services reported on December 8, 2021, that Teena completed nine months and 17 days in Viyyur Central Prison and that her conduct and character had been good. But despite the reports, the government decided to issue the GO rejecting remission of her sentence.
Though reports in this regard were given to the home department by December 2021, no decision was taken. In between, the court considered Teena’s appeal and acquitted her after finding flaws in the trial court’s proceedings on February 16.
"Maybe the government was not aware that Teena was already acquitted by the High Court. When the appeal was under consideration, the matter of remission was taken up by the government. The current order dismissing the remission request will have no impact as she has been acquitted," said advocate P K Varghese who appeared for Teena at the High Court.