Kerala: Death row convict to walk free after 10 years

An additional sessions court in Kollam had awarded capital punishment to Kumar in the sensational murder case that took place in Kundara in 2018.
Kerala High Court.
Kerala High Court.(File photo)

KOCHI: In a dramatic turn of events, the Kerala High Court has acquitted Gireesh Kumar, who was convicted and sentenced to death for the murder of Alice Varghese in Kollam in 2013, citing “systemic failure” of investigation agencies as well as the judiciary. After a gruelling 10 years behind bars, Kumar is now set to walk out of jail a free man.

An additional sessions court in Kollam had awarded capital punishment to Kumar in the sensational murder case that took place in Kundara in 2018.

The allegation was that Kumar trespassed into Alice’s house intending to commit rape and robbery, and after committing the crimes, caused her gruesome death and decamped with articles worth Rs 6 lakh.

An HC division bench comprising Justice A K Jayasankaran Nambiar and Justice Syam Kumar V M ordered his acquittal on Kumar’s appeal challenging the death sentence.

The HC said he 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 bench directed the state government to pay Kumar a 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 the method of investigation points towards 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.

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