Kerala HC upholds death sentence in 2016 Dalit law student rape-murder case

The Kerala High Court on Monday upheld the death sentence given by a sessions court to the perpetrator, Ameerul Islam, in the 2016 rape and murder of a 30-year-old Dalit law student in the state.
Ameerul Islam, Jisha (in the inset)
Ameerul Islam, Jisha (in the inset)

Kochi | The Kerala High Court on Monday upheld the death sentence given by a sessions court to the perpetrator, Muhammed Ameer-Ul Islam, in the brutal rape and murder of a 30-year-old Dalit law student in 2016 -- in which the lower court had drawn parallels with the 2012 Nirbhaya case in Delhi.

A division bench of the high court comprising justices P B Suresh Kumar and S Manu upheld the death penalty, dismissing the appeal filed by the convict challenging the trial court verdict. The confirmation of the capital punishment was also made based on the death sentence reference from the sessions court.

Islam was charged with raping and murdering the woman at Perumbavoor on April 28, 2016.

He brutally assaulted the law student, who hailed from a poor family, using sharp-edged weapons before murdering her at her house.

In 2017, the Ernakulam Principal Sessions court awarded the death penalty to Islam, a migrant labourer from Assam, for committing the gruesome murder.

The man had tried to rape the law student, and when she resisted he inflicted as many as 38 injuries on her, including penetrating injuries to her genitals with a knife. While sentencing him to death, the sessions court had compared the student's ordeal with that of the brutality inflicted on the victim of the Nirbhaya rape-murder case in Delhi.

Confirming the death sentence given by the sessions court, the high court said in its order: "In a case of this nature, the society would certainly approve the awarding of death sentence, especially since the victim was a young lady who was forced to live in a structure on the side of the public road, on account of her impoverished social background, and the crime was one committed within the premises of her own shelter."

Dismissing the convict's appeal, the court further said, "It is necessary to observe that it is with a heavy heart that we uphold the ultimate penalty of death sentence to the accused in the case."

"We hope and fervently believe that this judgment would serve as a resolute deterrent to those who would consider perpetrating such abhorrent acts in future, so that persons similarly placed like the victim who are innumerable in our society, would live with a sense of security and without fear," the high court said.

The court concluded the judgment with the celebrated statement made by the Nobel Laureate Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, who said that "Justice is conscience, not a personal conscience, but the conscience of the whole humanity."

The victim's mother welcomed the judgment, stating that Islam should experience the same pain her daughter had endured at his hands.

Islam was found guilty by the sessions court in 2017 under various sections of the IPC, including 449 (house trespass to commit an offence punishable with death), 342 (punishment for wrongful confinement), 302 (murder), 376 (rape), and 376 (A) (causing death or causing the woman to be in a persistent vegetative state while committing rape).

The Special Investigation Team that probed the case used DNA technology and verification of call record details to prove Islam's role in the crime.

Islam, who had left Perumbavoor soon after committing the crime, was arrested from Kancheepuram in neighbouring Tamil Nadu, 50 days after he committed the gruesome crime.

More than 100 police personnel questioned over 1,500 people in the case.

Fingerprints of over 5,000 people were also examined by the SIT personnel, who went through over 20 lakh telephonic conversations before tracing Islam.

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