A court in Kerala’s Kollam district sentenced life imprisonment for Sooraj S Kumar, who was found guilty of murdering his wife Uthra, by forcing a poisonous snake to bite her. The 25-year-old homemaker had sustained a near-fatal bite on March 2, 2020, and her life was claimed by another snake on May 7. She managed to recover from the first bite, but could not survive the second. Announcing the life imprisonment for Sooraj, Kollam Additional Sessions Court Judge M Manoj observed that the case was ‘rarest of rare’.
Life imprisonment for Sooraj has been announced with Rs 5 lakh for an offense under section 302 of the IPC, a jail term for life with Rs 1 lakh for an offense under section 307, 10 years in jail for the offense under section 328, and seven years imprisonment under section 201. The life imprisonment under sections 328 and 201 will begin only after 17 years, Additional Sessions Judge-VI Manoj M said.
Sooraj and Uthra were married in 2018 and the couple has a son. Uthra was found dead at her home in Anchal on May 7 2020 and the cobra that killed her was also spotted there. As per the report by the investigation team, Sooraj started searching for vipers online in January 2020. On March 3, 2020, at around 1 am Uthra suffered her first snake bite. At that time, Sooraj tried delaying taking her to the hospital. She has been in hospital for 52 days and got discharged. Though Uthra survived the first snake bite, the second attempt by Sooraj couldn’t help Uthra out of it which was occurred on May 7.
Uthra’s family was not ready to dismiss the incident as a natural snakebite death and alleged an abnormal play there. A police investigation followed, and the charge sheet gave details of a conspiracy, pointing to a murder planned and executed by her husband Sooraj. Sooraj was arrested on May 24, along with Suresh, a Kalluvathukkal resident who helped him with both the snakes. The handler later approved his hand, said he sold the snakes for ₹10,000.
The uniqueness of the case is that there were no pieces of evidence and witnesses for the incident. A detailed investigation paved the way to reach a conclusion that Sooraj, Uthra’s husband was the reason for her death.
It was the proximity of the two snakebite incidents and a police complaint by Uthra’s parents against Sooraj that led the police to investigate murder charges in the case. Kollam, Anchal police were the first to discover the mystery in the case. Later, the crime branch took over the case.
The probe team first started decided to go for the post-mortem of the snake, by removing the snake that had been buried in the yard of Uthra’s house in Anchal. The snake was found to be 152 cm long and the venomous tooth 0.6 cm long. Later, consultation with several experts, made the probe team receive more scientific evidence on the case.
Although the prosecution had sought capital punishment for him, the court decided life sentence for Sooraj considering his age and lack of criminal background. However, the parents of Uthra said they were not satisfied as they expected a death sentence. They said they will move to the Kerala high court for a death sentence.