Double life imprisonment awarded to husband in Uthra murder case
The Kollam Additional Sessions Court on Wednesday awarded double life imprisonment to Sooraj S Kumar for the murder of his wife, Uthra, by using a cobra. The punishment was pronounced by Judge M Manoj and a fine of Rs. 5 lakh has also been imposed on the convict. On Monday, the court had held Kumar guilty of plotting the murder of his wife.
The court held Kumar guilty of multiple crimes, including murder, attempt to murder, causing hurt by poison, and causing disappearance of evidence. While double life imprisonment was handed over for murder and attempted murder, a 10-year jail term was served for causing hurt by poison. Moreover, another term of seven-year imprisonment was awarded for causing the disappearance of evidence.
The prosecution had demanded a death sentence for the convict. G Mohanraj, the prosecution lawyer, told the media that the court didn't award a death penalty, considering the age of the convict and lack of criminal background. However, Uthra's mother expressed her dissatisfaction with the punishment, saying they were expecting the death penalty. She said they would appeal against the verdict.
Meanwhile, Kumar's family has also been booked under various provisions of the Indian Penal Code for domestic violence and conspiracy, among other offenses. They were reportedly booked after the police found that Sooraj had buried Uthra's gold around the family compound after her death.
On May 7, 2020, Kumar's wife Uthra (25) was found dead in her bedroom after she had been bitten by a cobra at her home in Kerala's Kollam district. The poisonous cobra was later found in the same bedroom. The cobra reportedly bit Uthra while she was sleeping in the bedroom along with her husband and their one-year-old kid at night.
The police initially dismissed the incident as a snakebite death. However, suspicions rose as Uthra had been bitten earlier by a viper a few months ago at her in-laws' house in March 2020. After her parents lodged a foul play complaint, the police launched a detailed investigation into the case. The police then started to suspect the husband and arrested him on May 24.
The police concluded in their investigation that Kumar bought both the viper and the cobra to kill his wife and make it seem like a natural death. Kumar's first attempt to kill Uthra by snakebite was unsuccessful as she was taken to the hospital on time, the police said. The victim reportedly spent 50 days in the hospital following the first snakebite.
On July 12, the accused husband—an employee of a private financial institution—publicly confessed that he had purchased two snakes on two occasions from a snake catcher from Parippally in Kollam, according to CNN-News18.
According to the police, the couple had a strained relationship over dowry-related issues. Kumar had reportedly received Rs. 10 lakh cash, property, a new car, and over 100 sovereigns of gold in dowry. According to the victim's parents, the accused attempted to extract more dowry from her family. The husband and the in-laws used to regularly harass Uthra for the same.