A sessions court in Kerala on Wednesday, 13 October, sentenced Sooraj Kumar with life imprisonment and also imposed a fine of ₹5 lakh for the murder of his 25-year-old wife, Uthra.
The Additional Sessions Court, Kollam, presided over by Justice Manoj M, sentenced Sooraj to double life imprisonment for murder and attempted murder, 10 years' imprisonment for causing hurt by poison and seven years for causing disappearance of evidence.
This is a rare case and believed to be the first in Kerala, where an accused used a snake to kill a person.
The couple had married in March 2018 and they had an 18-month-old son when Uthra died. The child was then taken into the care of Uthra's parents.
The prosecution, led by Advocate G Mohanraj, had asked for the death penalty. He told local news channels that the court had declined to impose the death penalty upon consideration of Sooraj's young age.
"This case is very diabolic. He will serve his entire lifetime in jail. The court has also directed him to extend financial assistance to his child," he said.
Uthra, was found dead due to a snakebite at her house in Kollam's Anchal on 7 May 2020. Initially, the neighbours and family members didn't suspect Kumar and instead assumed it was a 'sarppa kopam' (wrath of the snake) that was haunting the family. Later, Uthra's parents suspected foul play in their daughter's death and filed a complaint with the police.
The investigation into the case was led by Crime Branch Deputy Superintendent of Police, A Ashokan, who unravelled the truth that Sooraj had bought the snake, gave his wife sleeping tablets, and made the snake attack his wife.
On Monday, the court held Kumar guilty under sections 302 (murder), 307 (attempt to murder), 328 (causing injury by a poisonous substance), and 201 (destruction of evidence) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).
Kumar had allegedly attempted to murder her two months earlier too, in March 2020, as Uthra had been bitten by a viper. She was then bed-ridden for 52 days and had to undergo a plastic surgery.
Sooraj's family were also booked for various offences punishable under the IPC for domestic violence and conspiracy.
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