By Manu Sebastian
Judicial temperament should be one based on rationality, sobriety and equanimity, and not based on sentimentality and populism. Through the judgment in the ‘Soumya Murder Case’, the Supreme Court has emphasised this fact, and has proved that judiciary is not intended to appease popular sentiment, but to administer justice in accordance with law and reason.
Indeed, the ‘Soumya Murder Case’ is an unfortunate incident. A poor young girl supporting her economically backward family with her meager income getting raped and killed during the course of her journey by public transport, viz. the Railways, is a tragic event that should not have happened in a civilised society. Understandably, the incident sent shock waves across society, disturbing its conscience. That the criminal was an immigrant having a history of habitual offences, who had no compunction in subjecting a dying girl to rape added to the fury of society. Mounting public pressure sent the police into swift action, and the criminal, Govindaswamy, was nabbed within two days. The investigation was over in 90 days, and the trial was completed in a record time of four-and-a-half months, whereby he was sentenced to death. The appeal before the High Court was disposed of sooner than usual, confirming the death sentence. Keralite society seemed to attain a sense of closure seeing the triumph of justice in sending a wretched criminal to the gallows.