Verdict in 100 days: This Kerala court awards death penalty to convict in rape-murder of 5-year-old girl!

A Kerala Court has turned heads by delivering a verdict in 100 days in a chilling crime of rape and murder of a five-year-old girl where the convict has been awarded death penalty. With the verdict, Kerala's gallows is preparing for an execution for the first time in decades. Pronouning the verdict, the judge noted that this is a rarest of the rare case and that the convict doesn't deserve any sympathy. 

On Tuesday - November 14, on the occasion of Children's day, Ernakulam POCSO Court judge K Soman pronounced the verdict of awarding death sentence to Asafaq Alam, the convict who found guilty of raping and murdering a five-year-old girl earlier this year. Alam is a native of Bihar and the victim also belonged to a migrant family hailing from Bihar. 

The judgment in the case was passed in 109 days since the horrific incident took place. The child had gone missing on July 28, 2023 and during the probe, the police found that the girl was strangulated and dumped into a waste yard in Aluva market. Following the investigation, the police apprehended Asafaq Alam and by the time he was arrested, he was in an inebriated condition. 

A case was against Alam under Sections 302 - punishment for murder, 376 (2)(j) - rape on woman incapable of giving consent, 377- unnatural offences, 328- hurt by means of poison, 364- kidnapping or adbucting in order to kill, 366A - procuration of minor girl, 367 - kidnapping or abduction to subject person to grievous hurt, slavery, etc, 297 - indignity to human corpus, and 201 - disappearance of evidence of IPC and Section 5 of the POCSO (Protection of Children from Sexual Offences) Act.

As the victim was a minor, the case was heard by the POCSO court in Ernakulam and during the hearing, the court termed the case as 'rarest of the rare' and that the convict doesn't deserve any sympathy. Apart from the circumstantial evidence, the court also took into account the DNA evidence and the seriousness of the nature of offence. 

Amidst a demand from the victim's family that the accused must be awarded death penalty, the court on November 4 had convicted Alam for all 16 offences and the trial in the case was completed within a record span of 26 days of filing the chargesheet. Ten days after convicting Alam, POCSO court judge Justice K Soman delivered his verdict on Tuesday, awarding death sentence to the convict. 

According to Bar and Bench, the death sentence imposed on Alam was for the offence of murder while he was sentenced to life imprisonment for the offences under the POCSO Act. He was also sentenced to five years of incarceration for hiding evidence. As per the statement from the police after arresting Alam, it came to revelation that he was a habitual offender and a paedophile. 

With the death sentence, Alam has become the second convict to be on death row in Kerala while the other being convict Arun Sasi, who was found guilty in the Pazhayidom murder case. Besides these two inmates, there are no other prisoners currently in Kerala who are on the way to the gallows. 

Earlier this March, Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan told the Assembly that the state has carried out 26 death penalties in its history. The first hanging after the formation of the state was in 1958 and the last person to be hanged was Ripper Chandran in 1991. In Kerala, all the death sentences were executed at Kannur Central jail.