Bangalore cabbie gets life term for Pratibha’s rape-murder (Evening Lead)

Friday, October 8, 2010

BANGALORE - Bangalore cab driver Shiva Kumar was Friday sentenced to “life imprisonment till death” for the 2005 rape and murder of Hewlett Packard (HP) India employee Pratibha Murthy - a crime that had stunned this tech hub and forced IT firms to enhance security for the safety of their women employees.

A tearful, Gowramma, Pratibha’s mother, felt that justice was delivered, while the cabbie’s wife threatened to commit suicide if her husband is not set free.

The sentence was pronounced amid high drama and emotional scenes in the fast track court and outside the court complex.

Even before judge B.V. Guddali of the 11th fast track court began reading the punishment sentencing Shiva Kumar to life imprisonment until death under section 302 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), the accused pleaded that he did not commit the crime and begged that his plea be considered.

“I did not commit the crime. Please consider my plea,” a tense Shiva Kumar pleaded with the judge.

The judge, however, said nothing could be done as it was time to pronounce the judgment.

On Wednesday, the judge had held Shiva Kumar guilty and convicted him on all the three charges of kidnapping, rape and murder of the 28-year-old.

Shiva Kumar was also sentenced to 10 years rigorous imprisonment (RI) with a fine of Rs.10,000 for kidnapping and another 10 years RI for rape with a fine of Rs.20,000.

He will have to undergo an additional one year and two years RI if he fails to deposit the fine on both the counts.

As soon as the judge pronounced life imprisonment till death, Shiva Kumar broke down and said that he was not treated fairly by the court of law.

When the court adjourned in five minutes after the sentence was read out, Shiva Kumar began shouting, saying that he was willing to undergo a narco-analysis test to prove his innocence while he was being escorted by the police.

The cabbie had picked up Pratibha from her house in south Bangalore in the wee hours of Dec 13, 2005 for the graveyard shift (late night duty) at Hewlett Packard (HP) GlobalSoft Ltd and drove her to the outskirts of the city where he raped and murdered her.

Police found Pratibhas body with the throat slit in a pit near Anjanapura layout the following day Dec 14, 2005.

The murder had rocked this tech hub and forced all IT firms to enhance security for the safety of their women employees.

The cabbies wife, Suma, who separated from him after the gruesome crime, was seen sobbing outside the court complex and threatened to commit suicide if her husband was not set free.

A grieving Pratibhas mother Gowramma, however, felt that justice was delivered.

I got justice. Though my happiness has gone with her (Pratibha), she is somewhere up watching all these happenings, a tearful Gowramma told reporters later.

Pratibhas uncle, S. Srinivas, said that he was not satisfied with the punishment as the accused deserved capital sentence.

It is only an interim solace to women and a lesson to those who even think of committing such a heinous crime, Srinivas asserted.

The case trial began in January 2007 in a sessions court and was shifted to a fast track court in December 2009.

Though Shiva Kumar first confessed to the crime, he backtracked later and denied the charges against him, saying that he was not connected with the case and didn’t even know Pratibha.

The trial has been going on in the courts for four-and-a-half years. It began in a sessions court in Bangalore in January 2007 and was shifted to a fast track court in December 2009.

A total of 71 witnesses had been examined in the case.

The 11th fast track court deferred the judgment Sep 17 after hearing the submissions and arguments from the prosecution as well as the defence counsels. About 70 witnesses were examined during the four-year trial.

Filed under: Accidents and Disasters

will not be displayed