January 27, 2022

Case Brief: Govindaswamy v. State of Kerela

Judgement given by the Bench of the Supreme Court:

Ranjan Gogoi, Prafulla c. pant, Uday Umesh Lalit




CRIMINAL APPEAL NOS. 1584-1585 OF 2014


This case is famously known as ‘soumya rape’ case gives a clear picture of injustice towards women who cry desperately for caring and sensitive attention. This case is a proof that despite constitutional guarantees of ‘justice, social, economic, and political’ and assurances of a life of freedom, equality and dignity, rape and other sexual abuses are ravaging the lives of millions of women, where one such women is Soumya , a 23 year old who became a victim of rape and murder by the hands of a habitual offender roaming freely on the roads of Kerela.


The facts of the case, that the victim was travelling on February 1,2011 in Ernakulam-shornur passenger train, when the accused Charley Thomas aka ‘Govindaswamy’ on against the walls of the coach causing grievous injuries. Then he threw her from the train on the railway tracks and raped her. The villagers found her in an unconscious state on the railway tracks near vallathol Nagar station. She succumbed to many serious injuries and died in the hospital after 5 days of the incident and therefore, the Thrissur Fast Track imposed death penalty on the accused under section 376, 302 and 394 read with 397 IPC as well as under section 447 of the IPC which was later after 2 years upheld by the Division Bench of the High court of kerela. But when the case went in Appeal to the Supreme Court, The court altered the murder charge (IPC 302) to grievous assault charge (IPC 325). The sentence of death for commission of offence under section 302 IPC is set aside and instead the accused is sentenced to undergo rigorous imprisonment for seven years. All the sentences imposed shall run concurrently. The order of the learned Trial Court and the High Court is accordingly modified.


  • Whether the negligible speed of the train is enough to decide the intention of the accused?
  • Whether the entrance of the accused in ladies compartment is enough to show his intention?
  • Whether the repeatedly hitting her head on the walls of the compartment is enough to show the accused intention to make her unconscious for committing rape?
  • Whether the accused jump down from the other side of the running to satisfy his lust?
  • Whether his intention of committing robbery is proved by ransanking her belongings and her mobile phone?
  • Whether ransankings her mobile phone proves the accused intention of disappearing the evidence against him?
  • Whether leaving the girl in a supine position at the railway track proves accused intention to committing murder?
  • Whether not to use any deadly weapon prove accused intention of committing murder?
  • Whether finding of accused semen in victims undergarments proves the accused intention of committing murder?


Whether the Judgement delivered by Hon’ble High Court deserves to be interfered by the Hon’ble Apex court or not?

In the past few years, the government has brought a number of legal advancements, policy reforms for protection of women from various sources of violence, atrocities and schemes for launching women helpline, prevention of trafficking and sexual exploitation, for setting up of one stop centres to assist women affected by violence, etc. The courts have also awarded stringent punishments to offenders who commit offences against women including death penalty in the rarest of rare cases.

Whether the head injury of the deceased creates an intent cauing death?

Injuries sustained:

Injury no. 1 – is sufficient to render her dazed and insensitive. It is capable of creating dizziness to head and rendering her incapable to respond. These wounds may not be the nature of exclusive cause of death. This injury will be caused only if head is forcefully hit backward and forward against a hard-flat surface. This might not lead to total unconsciousness but can result into numbness. This injury described in no. 1 is caused by hitting 4-5 times against a flat surface holding the hair back with a right hand.

Injury no. 2 – consist of the injuries that may have been caused by fall of a person having the weight of the deceased (42 kg) from a height of 5 to 8 feet. These injuries will be sustained if this portion (left cheek bone crosswise). Has against the train track. Left cheek bone has been thoroughly pulverized. “ The descendents had died due to blunt injuries sustained to had as a result of blunt impact and fall and their complications including aspirations of blood into air passages (during and unprotected unconscious state following had trauma) resulting in anoxic brain damage.” She also injuries as a result of assault and forceful sexual intercourse.

Whether the statements laid by witnesses have proven accused guilty?

Placing heavy reliance on the fact drawn in a rulling-

“The presumption of law ordinarily is that a main intends to the act which he actually does and that he also intends the natural and inevitable consequences of his own acts”. As, in the case before the court, the post-mortem report clearly shows:

Injury no.1 – is sufficient to render soumya dazed and insensitive. It is capable of creating dizziness to head and rendering her in capable to respond. These wounds may not be the nature of exclusive cause of death.

As in, the witness, who didn’t saw the act being conducted, cannot be the basis for conviction of an accused that is not reliable for the murder.

Whether the accused would be liable for causing the death of the victim when be clearly wanted to commit some other crime and death happened as a result of both the acts?

That , the respondent humbly approach in the hon’ble supreme court of India give its humble submission before this hon’ble bench that the accused didn’t intend to commit any kind of murder but the only intend was to satisfy his lust.

Whether the hon’ble high court was correct in setting aside a order of conviction pass by the session court?

That, the respondent humbly approach before this hon’ble court that there are number of lacunas are present and insufficient evidence and witness testimony with a witness on which decision or conviction cannot be done.

Thus, the evidences are corroborative in nature and certain contradiction and omissions are also present in the case in such type of situation to save the ends of justice or to protect the abuse of process of hon’ble high court has exercised its inherent powers, As looking into the gravity of the matter there are several cases where hig court has convicted, acquitted of completely change the order passed by the learned trial court.


Govindaswamy has been found guilty in the rape and murder case of soumya . Supreme court (bench composed of Mr. Ranjan Gogoi, Prafulla c. pant and uday umesh lalit) set aside murder charges and altered to rigorous imprisonment for seven years under section 325 IPC, stating that “The death of the deceased wad occasioned by a combination of injury no. 1 and injury no. 2. And all the sentences imposed shall run concurrently.


The supreme court was decided the case.


Deeply analysis the fact and circumstances of the case thereafter put an effected judgement in the interest of victim and to render them justice with freely and free conscience. And to create an example for the society that how a justice should be given fairly. Many times court becomes insensitive towards women victims since all the crimes against them must be proved beyond reasonable doubts.This is the condition in India, where victim need to fail that they are an integral part of the criminal justice system and are not disregarded. Therefore there is an urgent need to take a fresh look at the position in which the women as a victim of crime is placed in our criminal justice system. Women should be able to rely on the justice system which is not biased and is free from myths and stereotypes, and on the Judiciary whose impartially is not compromised in any situation. Justice is not a means but it is an end in itself which everyone who is right on their part deserves. Rape and sexual assault are highly injurious victimizations and accurate information about them is difficult to obtain because they are seriously underreported to law enforcement. For this data regarding the incidents will have been collected accurately.

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Author Details: Trisha Sharma (K.R.G. College)

The views of the author are personal only. (if any)

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