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Supreme Court refuses to change decision in Saumya murder case

Govindaswamy

The Supreme Court has dismissed a curative petition filed by the Kerala Government against its decision finding the main accused not guilty in the prominent Saumya rape and murder case of Kerala.

The case, analogous to the Nirbhaya episode of Delhi, had shocked the state.

The incident happened in 2011, when 23-year-old Soumya was travelling in a passenger train to Shoranur, returning from work in Kochi.

According to the findings of the court, the accused Govindaswamy saw the girl travelling alone in the ladies compartment and entered the bogie with an intent to rape the woman.

However, Saumya either jumped or was thrown from the train and died due to a head injury.

Govindaswamy also jumped off the train and had sexual intercourse with the girl after moving her out of the tracks. The girl was either dead or near death at the point.

Both the trial court as well as the High Court found Swamy guilty of rape and murder and awarded death sentence.

However, the Supreme Court found the accused guilty of rape, but said there was reasonable doubt about whether she had jumped from the train or whether she was thrown by Swamy.

“The court is convinced that Soumya was raped. The court also understands that she died due to head injury. However, it should be clarified whether Soumya was pushed from the train or whether she herself jumped from the train,” it said.

The SC judgement, which was delivered in September 2016 caused widespread outrage in Kerala. Many Keralites felt that it was immaterial whether the girl had jumped in fear or whether she was pushed off the train. Either way, they argued, it was caused by Govindaswamy’s attempt to rape her.

Among the vociferous critics of the judgement was former SC judge Markandeya Katju, who earned a contempt notice for his reaction.

The massive outrage over the judgement by the three judges forced the Kerala government to file a curative petition. The curative petition was heard by a six-member bench that included the original three judges — Ranjan Gogoi, Prafulla C Pant and UU Lalit — along with Chief Justice JS Khehar, Justices Dipak Misra and J Chelmeswar.

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