Thiruvananthapuram, July 25: In a landmark ruling, a Special CBI court Wednesday sentenced to death two serving police officers in connection with the custodial death of a 26-year-old man in 2005.
K Jithakumar and S V Sreekumar, presently serving as assistant sub-inspector and civil police officer respectively, were awarded the death penalty, along with a fine of Rs 2 lakh by the court here.
Pronouncing the verdict, Judge J Nazer said “this is a brutal and dastardly murder by accused one and two.” “The acts of the accused persons would definitely adversely affect the very institution of the police department,” the judge said.
This is believed to be the first time that capital punishment has been awarded to two serving police officers in Kerala, police sources said.
The court observed that police personnel were ‘duty-bound’ to protect the life and property of the citizen and if they venture in crimes, the safety of the public would be in jeopardy. “And if the faith of the people in the institution is lost, that will affect the public order and law and order of the society and it is a dangerous situation,” the court said.
Three other accused in the case, T K Haridas, E K Sabu and Ajit Kumar, have been sentenced to undergo three years imprisonment for destruction of evidence and conspiracy. While Haridas is currently a deputy superintendent of police ranked officer, the other two had served as superintendents of police.
The third accused, K V Soman, died during the pendency of the case, while another accused, V P Mohanan, was acquitted by the court earlier. The court also slapped a fine of Rs 5,000 on all the accused. Manoj Kumar T P was the CBI Special prosecutor in the case, which had triggered widespread protests across the state.
According to the prosecution, Udayakumar was taken into custody in connection with a case of theft and had died in a police station here after being tortured by police. Jithakumar and Sreekumar, who took Udayakumar into custody, were held responsible for the murder, while three others were found guilty of conspiracy and destroying evidence.
The Central Bureau of Investigation had taken over the probe following a high court order on a plea filed by Udayakumar’s mother Prabhavathi. “My son has got justice at last. No mother should face what I have undergone. This should be a lesson to all,” said the 67-year-old woman, who fought for 13 years to get justice for her son.
Meanwhile, speaking at a seminar here, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said police should use their power judiciously for the people and the state. “Police should be protectors of human rights. Power should not corrupt them,” he said, adding that no leniency would be shown in torture cases.