Sooraj S Kumar was sentenced to a double life sentence by the Kollam Additional Sessions Court in Kerala, India, on Wednesday for killing his wife with a cobra.
On May 7, 2020, Sooraj killed his 25-year-old wife, Uthra, by allowing a cobra to attack her while she slept.
The crime became known as the ‘Uthra murder case,’ and it attracted worldwide attention.
The convict was given life sentences on charges of Sections 302 (murder) and 307 (attempt to murder), as well as 10 years rigorous imprisonment under Section 328 (causing harm using poison) and seven years imprisonment under Section 201 (causing disappearance of evidence) of the IPC and a fine of Rs 5 lakh in a case described by the prosecution as the “rarest of the rare.”
Given the convict’s young age and lack of prior criminal history, the trial judge declined to sentence him to death, stating that there is still time for him to change his ways.
The court did state, however, that the offender will serve 10 years in prison and 7 years in prison before beginning his double life sentence.
S Harishankar, the investigating officer and former Kollam Rural SP, informed reporters that he was pleased with the verdict.
“The length of a sentence is determined by judicial discretion, and there are many elements to consider.” On all four counts brought by the investigating authorities and the prosecution, the court has already declared the accused guilty. Our efforts come to a stop there. “We are unable to remark on the severity of the sentence,” he stated.
Manimeghalai, the victim’s mother, who watched the trial from her home in Anchal, Kollam district, said she was disappointed with the result since she had expected the court to sentence Sooraj to death.
“These are the judicial system’s faults, just as there are loopholes.” People get away with it because of the loopholes. If the harsh sentence had been applied, it would have served as a deterrent for others to refrain from committing crimes. “We’ll file an appeal,” the bereaved mother stated.
The case began on May 7, 2020, when Uthra, a differently-abled mother of a one-year-old, was discovered dead at her house in Anchal due to a snakebite by her mother.
Suraj and her daughter had gone to their room after supper, according to the victim’s mother. Suraj, a night owl, got up early on that May morning and went out. When Uthara failed to awaken, her mother went to her room and discovered her unconscious.
When Uthara’s parents got home from the hospital after their daughter was certified dead, they killed the snake that was still in the room.
Though the local police initially dismissed Uthra’s death as a snakebite, the fact that she had been bitten by a viper on March 2, 2020 at her in-laws’ home, requiring her to be hospitalized, and her parents’ complaint of foul play in her death prompted police higher-ups to launch a thorough investigation.
Officers decided that Sooraj, an employee of a private financial institution, had methodically orchestrated the murder of his wife Uthra by inducing a snake to bite her after a thorough inquiry conducted by then Kollam Rural SP Harishanker.
Suraj and his associate Suresh, a skilled snake catcher, were detained on May 24 for plotting a plot to kill her with a snake.
Sooraj allegedly bought both the viper and the cobra from the snake handler with the objective of killing his wife and making it look like a genuine snake bite, according to the police.
Though his effort to attack her with the viper in March 2020 failed because she was hospitalized on time, he was able to recreate the deception two months later with the cobra. Following the first snakebite, she was admitted to a hospital and treated for nearly 50 days.
The couple had a troubled relationship, according to the police report, and Uthra’s parents said that her in-laws tormented her on a regular basis about dowry.
The investigation was undertaken by the Kollam Crime Branch, which produced a 1000-page chargesheet in the case, explaining how Sooraj carried out the murder using scientific and circumstantial evidence.
Suresh, according to the authorities, gave the snakes to Suraj. For Rs 10,000, he first delivered a venomous viper. Suresh provided him with a cobra for Rs 10,000 after the first attempt failed.
The couple’s one-year-old kid has been turned over to Uthra’s parents.