The Kerala High Court on Wednesday quashed the Palakkad Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) special court order acquitting three people in the unnatural deaths case of two Dalit minor sisters in Walayar ,Palakkad on January 13 and March 4, 2017.
The division bench judgment was pronounced following a petition filed by the girls’ mother and the Kerala government. The mother of the two girls pointed out lapses in the police investigation and demanded a probe by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) into the matter. The Kerala government, too, admitted lapses in the police investigation and called for a retrial.
The Special Prosecutor of the Kerala government has informed the court that the state government is ready for a retrial or even a reinvestigation in the case. The prosecution’s case is that the two Dalit sisters, aged 13 and nine, had allegedly committed suicide after the sexual assault by the accused.
In October 2019, a Special POCSO Court in Palakkad had acquitted the four accused in the case, citing lack of evidence leading to outrage among civil society.
In a scathing attack on the Kerala police, the division bench of the High Court had ordered an immediate retrial in the case and if necessary a reinvestigation.
The court had ordered accused K. Madhu, V. Madhu and Shiju to appear before the trial court on January 21. The division bench also said the POCSO case judges must be imparted more training on the social impact of such cases and should be more careful in pronouncing a judgment acquitting the culprits.
The High Court also directed the prosecution to either cancel the bail of the accused or to conduct the trial or reinvestigation, keeping the accused out on bail.
The High Court observed that the trial court did not take into account Section 29 of the POCSO Act.
However, M. Mansar, who has been heading the civil society movement “Justice for Walayar Children”, said a retrial in the matter is unacceptable and they want a fool-proof reinvestigation in the case.