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Opinion

Kerala High Court overturns sentence in Walayar child rape and murder case

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A divisional court of Kerala High Court on Wednesday overturned the verdict of the Palakkad Special Court Law for the Protection of Children from Sexual Offenses (POCSO) which acquitted all defendants in the death case. of two younger Dalit brothers in Walayar, Palakkad. district in 2017.

The court composed of judges A Hariprasad and MA Anitha ordered a retrial in the case and ordered the special court to hear it. The court also noted that the prosecution could file a request seeking further investigation of the case with the special court. It has also ordered the defendants to surrender to the trial court before January 20.

The court rendered the ruling while hearing appeals from the state government and the mother challenging the verdict of the special court.

There are four defendants in the case and one of them Pradeep Kumar had committed suicide last year. The court has also convened the investigation team, the prosecutor and the POCSO court judge.

The case of the prosecution is that the two minors had committed suicide due to repeated sexual harassment by the accused. The girls, ages 13 and nine, were found dead inside their home 52 days apart. The 13-year-old boy was found dead on January 13, 2017 and the youngest, 9, died 52 days later, on March 4.

The case had experienced many twists and turns since then. Last year, the government had admitted in high court that the case was not properly investigated and was ready for a new investigation. The mother had also approached the superior court for a court-supervised central agency investigation.

In 2019, the POCSO court had released four defendants and approved restrictions against the investigation team. But the police officer who led the investigation was later promoted. There was enough outrage after the verdict and later the higher court took up the suo motu case, but the proceedings were stalled again after the government announced a judicial commission.

Many lapses in the trial also came to light. Attorney N Rajesh, who represented one of the defendants in the case, was later appointed chairman of the district’s child welfare committee, a body designed to protect children’s rights. During the trial, many witnesses turned hostile.

The ruling CPI (M) also faced criticism because some of the accused are reportedly party workers. The state women’s commission also did not come to the parents’ rescue due to political pressure, said activists who were helping the parents, both workers. The mother of the brothers had staged several rounds of protests seeking an investigation by the Central Bureau of Investigation.

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