A Kerala Court on Wednesday sentenced one Sooraj to life imprisonment and also imposed fine of ₹5 lakh for the the murder of his 25-year-old disabled wife, Uthra. (State of Kerala v. Sooraj S Kumar)
The Additional Sessions Court, Kollam, presided by Justice Manoj M pronounced the sentence in this unique case where the husband committed murder by throwing a starving cobra on to his sleeping wife to induce death by snakebite.
The Court sentenced Sooraj to double life imprisonment for murder and attempted murder, 10 years imprisonment for causing hurt by poison and 7 years for causing disappearance of evidence.
The incident which occurred in May 2020 was Sooraj's second attempt at murdering his wife using a snake. His first attempt had proven unsuccessful but reports of the same fortified the case against Sooraj.
The Court had, on Monday, found Sooraj guilty under Sections 302 (murder), 307 (attempt to commit murder), 328 (causing hurt by poison) and 201 (causing disappearance of evidence of offence) of the Indian Penal Code.
At the hearing, the prosecution, led by Advocate G Mohanraj, had pressed for the death penalty.
Today, Mohanraj spoke to news channels and confirmed that the Court had declined to impose the death penalty upon consideration of Sooraj's young age and his lack of any criminal antencedents.
In March 2020, a then 27 year old Sooraj had first attempted to murder his wife by setting a venomous starving viper on a sleeping Uthra but she had survived that attack.
However, Sooraj was successful in his second attempt in May 2020, when he used a deadlier Indian cobra and this time, Uthra, who was recovering from the first attempt on her life, succumbed to the lethal bite of the cobra.
While Sooraj's family initially attempted to dismiss the incident as a natural snakebite, Uthra's family filed a police complaint alleging foul play and dowry harassment.
The investigation led to the arrest of a snake-handler named Suresh who turned approver and admitted to supplying both snakes to Sooraj.
During interrogation, Sooraj confessed to the crime stating that his motive was financial gain.
According to reports, the State Police with the assistance of various experts carried out a detailed probe and even used a dummy to recreate the snake bite and discern the difference between a natural snakebite and induced snakebite.
Sooraj's family were also booked for various offences punishable under the Indian Penal Code for domestic violence and conspiracy among others after it was found that Sooraj had buried Uthra’s gold around the family compound after her death.
Other related cases of domestic violence and one registered by the forest department against Sooraj and his family are still pending.