In a significant judgement, the Kerala High Court on Monday set aside the judgement delivered by Palakkad Special Court to acquit all the accused in Walayar minor sisters’ rape and death case. According to the reports, the Kerala HC, setting the Palakkad court judgement aside, also ordered re-trial in the case. A division bench comprising Justices A Hariprasad and MR Anita has asked the accused to surrender before the trial court on January 20.
The Kerala High Court has also given liberty to the prosecution to seek further investigation in the case. One of the four accused, Pradeep Kumar, had died last year in a suspected suicide. Valiya Madhu, Kutty Madhu and Shibu are the remaining three accused.
The accused had allegedly raped and murdered to two minor sisters. The 13-year-old elder sister was found hanging in her house on January 13, 2017. Within two months, the younger sister, aged 9, was also found hanging at the house. The girls belonged to the Scheduled Caste community.
Observing that there were lapses in the investigation, the Kerala High Court in scathing remarks against Kerala police said, “We are constrained to observe that the initial part of the investigation in the cases was utterly disgusting. The investigating officer, who was deputed to investigate these cases almost a week after the younger girl’s death, failed to gather any proper scientific evidence”.
Palakkad High Court had acquitted the accused
Two years after two minor sisters in Walayar in Palakkad district were found dead in mysterious circumstances, a court in Palakkad in October 2019 had acquitted three persons who were accused of abetment of suicide and rape of the two minor Dalit girls.
A POCSO court in Palakkad had acquitted the accused in the case after the prosecution failed to establish their involvement in the crime. Following the acquittal of the accused, the Kerala government faced severe criticism over the handling of the investigation. It was alleged that the ruling CPI(M) had attempted to stall the investigation, which has led to the acquittal of the accused.
It was accused that the Kerala police under political pressure, allegedly helped the accused evade the conviction by weakening the case. Notably, the accused in the case were CPI(M) workers and the defence lawyer was a local CPI(M) leader.
Following the acquittal, the civil society members across the country, especially in Kerala had expressed massive outrage against the Kerala government. The National Commission for Scheduled Castes (NCSC) had also found lapses from investigating officials in the case. The Kerala CM had said in the Assembly that it would be decided after examinations whether a CBI probe or a re-probe was required or not.
Following the outrage, the Communist government in Kerala led by Pinarayi Vijayan had also decided to file an appeal against the trial court verdict that had acquitted all the accused in the brutal murder and rape of two minor girls.
The two minor Dalit girls, who were sisters, were found hanging after being sexually assaulted in January and March 2017 in Attappalam in Walayar, near Kerala’s border with Tamil Nadu. The minor girls belonged to the Scheduled Caste community.
According to the postmortem reports, the girls were subjected to sexual assault. The autopsy report in the case of the younger girl even suggested the possibility of homicidal hanging.
However, the police did not investigate the murder charges and the final report was submitted against four accused – V Madhu, M Madhu, Shibu and Pradeep Kumar for offences of abetment of suicide, rape and unnatural sex under the Indian Penal Code and penetrative sexual assault under the POCSO Act.
Another accused is a juvenile and proceedings against him are progressing in the Juvenile Justice Board.