In a landmark decision, the Kerala High Court has quashed the conviction and death sentence of Gireesh Kumar, who was accused of murdering a 57-year-old woman in 2013. The bench, comprising Justices AK Jayasankaran Nambiar and Syam Kumar VM, ruled that there was insufficient evidence to substantiate the charges against Kumar or justify the death sentence initially imposed.

The court’s ruling highlighted significant shortcomings in the prosecution’s ability to present legally tenable evidence, leading to Kumar’s acquittal. The judges stressed that the circumstantial evidence presented did not definitively link Kumar to the crime, and the possibility that evidence and witnesses had been manipulated by the police was a concern that could not be ignored.

Gireesh Kumar, who was imprisoned for nearly a decade, most of it under the shadow of a death sentence, was also awarded compensation. The Supreme Court ordered the state government to pay Kumar Rs 5 lakh for the undue hardship and violation of his fundamental rights, particularly the right to life under Article 21 of the Constitution.

The judgment stressed that the freedoms guaranteed by the Constitution should not be so easily undermined by flawed investigations and judicial errors. The court noted that such miscarriages of justice not only undermine public confidence in the justice system, but also undermine the very foundation of the rule of law that underpins the republic.

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The court further noted that there were systemic failings that led to Kumar’s prolonged wrongful imprisonment and stressed the need for accountability and reparation from the state. The state has been ordered to compensate Kumar within three months from the date of the judgment.

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