Days after acquittal of the accused in the Walayar sisters death case triggered a controversy, the Kerala government on Monday announced the Public Prosecutor who handled it has been removed and said a probe is on to identify lapses in the police enquiry, if any. Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan announced this in the state assembly in response to allegations by the Opposition that the police and the prosecution failed in providing justice to the victims.
He said the state government will go in for an appeal against the POCSO court order. "The government is looking into the allegations that there were lapses in the police inquiry and the prosecution. The special public prosecutor has been removed from the post. State will appeal against the acquittal," Vijayan told the House.
Public outcry and protests erupted in Kerala seeking justice to the family of the Dalit sisters aged 11 and nine after a special POCSO (Protection of Children from Sexual Offences) court in Palakkad acquitted the accused on October 25. Replying to question by member M Vincent, the chief minister told the Assembly the special public prosecutor Latha Jayaraj has been dismissed.
The mother of two minor girls, who were found dead in Walayar, had approached the Kerala High Court, on November 12, seeking to quash the order of Palakkad special court (POCSO Act) acquitting all the accused in the case. The elder child, aged 13, was found dead on January 13, 2017, and the younger child, aged nine, died 52 days later.
There were five accused in the case and separate charge sheets were filed against each accused. However, they were acquitted. "The state will support the parents' demand for CBI probe," Vijayan said. He also dismissed the Opposition allegation his party had interfered in the case and said such tendencies are not encouraged by the Left party. The girls' mother in her plea to the high court had said the court acquitted the accused persons who were charge-sheeted for rape and abetment of suicide, disbelieving eyewitness accounts.
The trial court dealt with the case in a most casual manner and it failed to take an active role in the trial process to ensure that a fair trial was conducted, the woman contended in her plea. The National Commission for Scheduled Castes had last week said it will seek clarifications from the doctors who performed the post-mortem on two minor Dalit girls, who were raped and later found dead under "suspicious circumstances". The acquittal of the accused in the case by the POCSO court had led to a lot of anger and protests by political parties and NGOs as they alleged the "Kerala police deliberately did a bad investigation to help the accused come out of the case."
Originally, the NCSC issued summons to the Kerala chief secretary and director general of police for their appearance before it today. The girls belonged to Shelvapuram in Attapallam near Walayar. They were found hanging in January and March of 2017, respectively. Post-mortem reports suggested they were sexually assaulted. Police had arrested four people, one of whom was acquitted in September this year, and the three others on October 25. The accused were charged with abetment of suicide and rape.
The POCSO court in Palakkad, while acquitting the accused, pulled up the investigation team, saying it did not present enough scientific evidence in the case.