Listen to this article:
New Delhi: A sessions court in Kerala on Wednesday awarded life sentence to Sooraj Kumar, who killed his wife Uthra by using a cobra.
According to Bar and Bench, the court sentenced Sooraj to double life imprisonment for murder and attempted murder, 10 years imprisonment for causing hurt by poison and 7 years for causing disappearance of evidence. The sentences will have to run consecutively, according to reports.
In May 2020, Sooraj threw a starving snake at his sleeping wife. The cobra bit her, poisoning and killing her. This was Sooraj’s second attempt to murder his wife using a snake. While the first attempt, in March 2020 using a viper, was unsuccessful, it fortified the case against Sooraj.
On October 11, the court had held Sooraj guilty of murder, poisoning, destruction of evidence and also attempt to murder for his first try at killing his then 25-year old wife.
Additional sessions judge-VI Manoj M., who pronounced the sentence, said the case was the ‘rarest of the rare’, but looking at the age of the convict – 28 years now – it decided to award him life sentences instead of death, a lawyer present in the court told news agency PTI.
The court also imposed a total fine of Rs 5.85 lakh on the convict, the lawyer said.
“Accused (Kumar) is produced in court. The accused is found guilty of the commission of offences punishable under sections 307 (attempt to murder), 302(murder), 328 (poisoning) and 201 (destruction of evidence) of the Indian Penal Code,” the court had said, convicting him.
After Sooraj was convicted, Kerala state police chief Anil Kant told reporters that the case was “a shining example of how scientifically and professionally a case was investigated”. He said that it was a difficult case, as there were no eyewitnesses, but with the hard work and efforts of the investigating team led by the superintendent of police (SP) Harishanker, the guilt of the accused was established.
He also told reporters that the accused was nailed by using forensic medicine, analysis of animal DNA and cyber data as well as an experiment using a dummy and a cobra snake to ascertain how the crime was committed.
Recreating the scene was crucial in sealing the conviction. According to LiveLaw, this is the first case anywhere in the entire country where a man has been found guilty of murder by using a snake. While two similar cases were reported earlier, the accused were acquitted because their guilt could not be established.
SP Harishanker, who also spoke to the reporters, said the convict’s YouTube and search history revealed the extent of research he had carried out on snakes.
In fact, his search history revealed that when his wife was bitten by a viper in the first attempt at murder and was undergoing treatment in a hospital ICU, he was busy searching for a cobra snake while waiting outside the ward.
“He was a snake handler and a wildlife expert, so he chose a weapon (snake) in which he was confident,” the officer told the reporters.
Sooraj wanted Uthra out of his life but at the same time wanted her property also. “And for that, the only way was her accidental death,” the officer said, explaining the motive behind the murder.
Meanwhile, the victim’s family welcomed the verdict and appreciated the work of the police and the prosecution.
The chairperson of the Kerala Women’s Commission also welcomed the verdict and said that the immediate arrest of the culprit and his timely conviction shows the “utmost vigilance of our judicial system”.