Kerala HC sets free man accused of murder of woman in 2013 after he spent 10 years in jail

After spending a grueling ten years behind bars, Kumar, whose life was once overshadowed by the weight of a death sentence, is now set to walk free.
Kerala High Court
Kerala High CourtFile Photo | Express

KOCHI: In a dramatic turn of events, the Kerala High Court has acquitted Gireesh Kumar, who was previously convicted and sentenced to death for the 2013 murder of Alice Varghese in Kollam. After spending a grueling ten years behind bars, Kumar, whose life was once overshadowed by the weight of a death sentence, is now set to walk free.

An additional sessions court in Kollam awarded capital punishment to Kumar in the sensational Alice Varghese murder case at Kundara in Kollam in 2018. The allegation was that Kumar trespassed into Alice's house, intending to commit rape and robbery, and after committing those crimes, caused her gruesome death and decamped with articles worth Rs 6 lakh.

A division bench comprising Justice A K Jayasankaran Nambiar and Justice Syam Kumar V M issued the order on the appeal filed by Gireesh Kumar challenging the death sentence. The court pointed out that Kumar was forced to undergo incarceration for around 10 years, that too on death row, due to the systemic failure of various state apparatuses, including the investigation agencies and the judiciary.

Considering the ignominy of over 10 years of incarceration and the trauma of living under the constant threat of a death sentence, the court directed the state government to pay Kumar compensation of Rs 5 lakh. The ruling underscores the importance of judicial review and highlights the potential for miscarriages of justice, as well as the human cost associated with prolonged and unjust incarceration.

The court said that the method of investigation points towards the total lack of scientific evidence to implicate the accused in the crime and the benefit of the doubt arising from the same should accrue to him.

The dictum laid down by the Supreme Court that in a case based on circumstantial evidence the circumstances from which an inference of guilt is sought to be drawn must be cogently and firmly established. The prosecution failed to put forth legally tenable evidence to prove any of the charges laid against the accused.

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