Kottayam: A court here on Tuesday awarded life imprisonment to 10 people for the honour killing of a 23-year-old Dalit Christian man last year, which had triggered widespread protests across the state.
Principal sessions court judge C. Jayachandran convicted the 10 men under various sections of the IPC, including sections 302 (murder) and 364A (kidnapping for ransom), special public prosecutor C.S. Ajayan told reporters here.
He also imposed a fine of Rs 40,000 each on all the accused, which shall be distributed to three witnesses — Kevin’s father Joseph, spouse Neenu Chacko and relative Aneesh Sebastian who was abducted along with Kevin, he said.
According to the judgment, the accused deserved capital punishment for the honour killing as per the direction of the Supreme Court. But in this case the court considered the young age of the accused and also the fact that there are no criminal antecedents against the accused. The court found that they were amenable to change and hence were given a chance to reform.
On August 22, the court observed that the murder of Kevin P. Joseph, involving his spouse’s relatives, was a case of honour killing.
The court said `1 lakh should be given to Aneesh Sebastian, the key witness in the case, while the remaining amount should be equally distributed among Kevin’s spouse Neenu and father Joseph.
If the convicts failed to pay the money, their three vehicles confiscated by police during the investigation should be put on sale and the amount be realised, the court said. Six convicts were awarded an additional term of three years of rigorous imprisonment along with a fine of `5,000 each under a section of the IPC.
Besides, they have also been awarded rigorous imprisonment for one year along with a fine of `5,000 under another section of the IPC.
The court which also found some of the 10 men guilty under other relevant sections of the IPC made it clear that the sentences shall run concurrently.
The court said in the instant case, Joseph, Neenu and Aneesh Sebastian are victims of the crime. “In reckoning 12th witness Neenu Chacko, as a victim, this court does not take into account the fact that there is no legal marriage between herself and deceased Kevin P Joseph,” it said.
“That is not a criteria in the present facts and circumstances, to decide the question whether she is a victim. It is only on account of her relationship with Kevin that he was exterminated by the accused persons, who are found guilty,” court said....