After five-long years of arduous trial, it was justice delayed but not denied to late Pratibha Srikanthamurthy whose killer was today sentenced to life imprisonment till death by a Fast Track Court here.
Even as the media and kith and kin of Pratibha waited with bated breath for the judgement in the crowded court hall, 11th Fast Track Court judge B V Guddali who entered the hall at 11.42 am lost no time in pronouncing the verdict to the cab driver Shiva Kumar, who was produced there.
It was high drama that ensued with the accused, who appeared unfazed till the verdict was pronounced, suddenly losing his cool and shouting, "I am not guilty. I have not done it. Do a narco analysis on me."
As Kumar was being frisked away by the police, his wife Suma, who had disowned him after the crime and refused to "even see his face", burst into tears saying, "If my husband is not released, I will drink poison and end my life".
However, for the visibly tired and distraught Gowramma, mother of Pratibha who has been fighting a lone battle for justice after the murder of her only daughter, it was "justice at last".
In between her sobs, Gowramma said, "Anyhow, I got justice. My strife and struggle for all these five years have not gone in vain. My happiness is gone with my daughter whom I brought up single handedly with all love and care since I lost my husband when she was just 15 days old. But I have some consolation that I have got justice".
"He (Shiva Kumar) should rot in jail. Every day that he spends in jail, he should be reminded of the gruesome crime he has committed", she said.
Then as if gripped by mixed emotions of uncontrolled grief and some solace, lifting her hands high up in the air, she cried out, "I do not know where my darling daughter is, but wherever she is, may her soul rest in peace. Please leave me alone. I cannot say anything more.",
Pratibha's uncle, H Shrinivas, former General Manager of RBI, said, "I am not satisfied with the verdict. That horrible criminal should have been given death sentence. He should have been hung so that it would have been a deterrent for other such criminals with who would not dare to commit such a heinous crime fearing the consequences."
"What is life imprisonment for a hardened criminal like him. I do not think it is justice. He will just lead his life, eat and sleep. Death sentence would have put the fear of god in such criminals", Srinivas said.
"We have to respect the judgement. I am yet to get a certified copy of the judgement. I have to go through it first", said Pulic Prosecutor V K Patil.
Pratibha Case: Justice Delayed But Not Denied
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