Soumya rape case: Death row debate a way to cover up Kerala govt's lapses in SC, says Congress

Thiruvananthapuram: Congress in Kerala on Saturday sharpened its attack against the LDF government on alleged lapses in conduct of the Soumya rape and murder case in the Supreme Court, saying the present debate by CPI(M) on the death penalty was an attempt to "cover up" their slip and divert public anger.

Representational image. Getty Images

Representational image. Getty Images

KPCC president V M Sudheeran, opposition leader Ramesh Chennithala and former Chief Minister Oommen Chandy continued to attack the government over the case, in which the apex court had commuted the death sentence of the accused, Govindachamy.

Chandy, who visited Soumya's mother Sumathy at her home in Shornur on Saturday, said the government had committed "serious lapses" in dealing with the case.

The stand taken against the death sentence by various CPI(M) leaders, including veteran V S Achuthanandan,
indirectly amounted to accepting the apex court's verdict, he said.

"CPI(M) is now trying to divert the public anger (through debate over death sentence)," Chandy said.

Stating that difference of opinion among CPI(M) leaders over the death sentence also contributed to the government's setback in the case, Sudheeran argued that ideological stand should not be a barrier to ensure maximum punishment to the accused.

The leader said that the recent setback in the case cannot be viewed as a coincidence.

Echoing similar sentiments, Chennithala said if the government failed to ensure maximum punishment to the accused, it would trigger a sense of insecurity among women in the state.

"The present debate by CPI(M) leaders over whether or not to award death sentence to the accused is an attempt to cover up the government's failure in handling the case properly," he said, adding the government should now atleast take some steps to ensure that the accused gets maximum punishment.

According to the prosecution, Govindachamy had raped Soumya, a 23-year old sales representative after pushing her
out from a running train on 1 February, 2011.

The Thrissur trial court had sentenced him to death, which was upheld by the Kerala High Court.

The Supreme Court, however, commuted his death sentence, while upholding the life imprisonment.

The verdict had come as a shock to the entire state with the victim's mother terming it as "heart breaking".

Political parties have attacked the government, accusing it of not properly presenting the case in the Supreme Court.

However, senior CPI(M) leader V S Achuthanandan and M A Baby came against awarding death sentence to the accused, triggering a debate.

Meanwhile, Kerala Law minister A K Balan is in New Delhi. He is scheduled to meet senior lawyers and holding
consultations with regard to filing of a review petition in the case.

Updated Date: Sep 17, 2016 18:40 PM

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