Kollam, Oct 13, 2021: A sessions court in Kerala on Wednesday awarded life sentence in the Uthra murder case to the victim’s husband for killing his wife using a cobra. On October 11, the court had held the husband — Sooraj S Kumar — guilty of murder, poisoning, destruction of evidence and also attempt to murder for his first try at killing his then 25-year old wife — Uthra — by using a viper.
Sooraj has been sentenced to life imprisonment with Rs 5 lakh for offence under section 302 of the IPC, jail term for life with Rs 1 lakh for offence under section 307, 10 years in jail for offence under section 328 and seven years imprisonment under section 201. The life imprisonment under section 328 and 201 will begin only after 17 years, Additional Sessions Judge-VI Manoj M said.
Manoj M, who pronounced the sentence, said the case was a rarest of the rare, but looking at the age of the convict — 28 years now — it decided to award him life sentence instead of death, a lawyer present in the court said.
The husband was found guilty on Monday under IPC sections 302 (murder), 307 (attempt to murder), 328 and 201 after the prosecution had argued that he killed her on May 7, 2020, using a cobra after drugging her. According to the prosecution, this was the second time Uthra was bitten by a snake as earlier she was attacked by a viper at Sooraj’s house.
Advocate G Mohan Raj, special public prosecutor, said Uthra was differently abled and during marriage, dowry of about 98 sovereigns of gold, Rs 4 lakh and a car was given. Uthra’s father also used to give about Rs 8,000 every month. The prosecution case was that Sooraj wanted all these benefits and hence resorted to the crime.
Since there was no eye witness, the police had to resort to circumstantial and technical evidence. They even conducted a test with a dummy and snake to show the difference between the bite marks when bitten naturally and induced. The police have also collected evidence from Sooraj’s mobile which revealed that he searched for cobra and viper.
The prosecution case was that Sooraj had purchased a cobra and deliberately made it bite Uthra after drugging her.
Sooraj and Uthra were married in 2018 and the couple have a son. According to prosecution, Sooraj started searching for vipers online from January 2020. On March 3, 2020, at around 1am Uthra suffered her first snake bite. According to prosecution, Sooraj tried delaying taking her to the hospital.
“The bite happened around 1am, he called his friend to bring a vehicle to take her to the hospital only around 2.25am though there were two vehicles in his house. She was in the hospital for about 52 days. Sooraj stayed with her in the hospital but at the same time, he was searching for cobras in his mobile phone. Prior to her being bitten by viper in March, he was searching for viper,” the prosecution case said.
Prosecution states that Sooraj had purchased a viper and a cobra from a person named Suresh by spending Rs 10,000 and Rs 7,000 respectively before Uthra was bitten by a snake.
Prosecution said that on March 10, 2020, Sooraj watched a video four times about cobra venom extraction. On May 7, Sooraj and Uthra were at her residence. A day earlier, Sooraj came to her house with a shoulder bag in which he reportedly carried the cobra. The prosecution also said that when Uthra was taken to the hospital even before the doctor checked her, Sooraj told the doctor about the bite mark.
Meanwhile, the counsel for Sooraj had argued that this was a case of natural snake bite and not induced. Adv Ajith Prabhav, counsel for the defence, said: “The test conducted by the police on natural and induced bites is preposterous. According to police, incident has happened in two places but there are no two FIRs or investigation. This was a natural bite and not an induced one.”