Walayar sisters death case: Kerala HC sets aside acquittal of accused

A two-judge Division Bench ordered a retrial of the case and remanded the case to the Special Court.

A Division Bench of the Kerala High Court on Kerala government on Wednesday set aside the verdict of the Palakkad Special Court for POCSO cases acquitting all the accused in the case relating to the death of two minor Dalit siblings at Walayar in Palakad in 2017.

The Bench comprising A. Hariprasad and Justice M.R. Anitha also ordered a retrial of the case and remanded the case to the Special Court.

The court also observed that the prosecution could move an application seeking a further investigation into the case before the Special Court. The State government sought permission to conduct further investigation into the case.

The Bench directed the accused to surrender before the Special Court on January 20.

The court passed the judgment while allowing appeals filed by the State government and mother of the minor girls challenging the Special Court verdict. The acquitted accused are Madhu alias Valya Madhu, Madhu alias Kutti Madhu, Shibu, and Pradeep Kumar. Pradeep died by suicide when the appeals were pending before the High Court.

The prosecution’s case is that the two minor girls had died of suicide due to repeated sexual harassment by the accused. The two girls, aged 13 and nine, were found dead inside their one-room home in 52 days apart in Wayalar in Palakkad. The 13-year-old girl was found dead on January 13, 2017, while her sister, a nine-year-old was found dead on March 4 in the same house. The accused, Valya Madhu and Kutti Madhu are girls’ mother’s close relatives while Shibu, is a former co-worker of her parents. Pradeep Kumar lived in the areas.

The acquittal of the accused by the special court in October 25,2019, had drawn flak from various quarters.

The civil society organisations and Opposition parties had alleged shoddy handling of the case by the prosecutor and accused the police of not conducting a flawless investigation. The Special Court had acquitted the accused holding that there was no scientific evidence to connect the accused to the offences alleged against them. The lower court had also found that there were contradictions in the depositions of the prosecution witnesses.

In the appeal, the State government pointed out that the Special Court’s judgment suffered from illegality and manifest errors. The lower court ought to have treated the oral testimony of the witnesses as substantial evidence in the case.

The government pointed out that the lower court went wrong in accepting the flimsy grounds raised by the defence in arriving at a conclusion that the prosecution had failed to establish the guilt of the accused beyond a reasonable doubt.

Even as the appeal pointed out various flaws in the judgments of the Special Court, the government had equally admitted that there was a lack of coordination between the investigation agency and the prosecutor. It was submitted that the conduct of the case by the Special Public Prosecutor (SPP) was “totally blameworthy”.

In fact, Special Public Prosecutor Latha Jayaraj, had later been removed on the ground of dereliction of duty.The SPP did not care to use the statements of the witnesses recorded by the Magistrate for corroboration of the evidence of supporting witnesses. The public prosecutor had caused a “miscarriage of justice and affected the entire trial,” the government pointed out.

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