The Supreme Court on Monday invited former judge Markandey Katju for a debate on its judgment in the rape and murder of a Kochi woman in 2011, The Hindu reported. A bench comprising justices Ranjan Gogoi, PC Pant and UU Lalit took suo motu cognisance of a Facebook post by Katju, who called the court’s verdict in the case a “grave error” made by judges who “had been in the legal world for decades”. The court on September 15 had commuted the death sentence of the man convicted in the case to seven years imprisonment.
The bench said the court had the greatest respect for the former justice and wanted him to come and debate with them on why he thought their judgment was a flawed one. It further said it was not “appropriate” to pass a decision on the review petitions filed against the court’s verdict by the victim's mother and the state of Kerala till it had debated the matter with Katju.
In his post, Katju argued that the Supreme Court erroneously dropped the murder charges against Govindachamy and found him guilty of raping the 24-year-old woman. According to the former judge, the first mistake on the part of the apex court was that it had taken into consideration “hearsay evidence, which is inadmissible” in the court of law.
Katju had added that the apex court had “ignored vital parts of Section 300” of the Indian Penal Code, which states that it is a case of murder even if there was no intention to kill, if the accused inflicts a wound sufficient to cause the death of a person in the ordinary course of nature.
The convicted man, Govindachamy, had assaulted the woman, a shopping mall employee, on board a passenger train on February 1, 2011. He threw her off the running train after she resisted him. He then jumped off the train himself and raped her as she lay injured near the tracks. She succumbed to her injuries on February 6.