Sooraj S. Kumar, who was found guilty of murdering his wife, 25-year-old Uthra, by forcing a poisonous snake to bite her, has been sentenced to life imprisonment by a trial court in Kerala on Wednesday. On October 11, Kollam Additional Sessions Court Judge M. Manoj had found Sooraj guilty for committing offences under Indian Penal Code (IPC) such as murder (Section 302), attempt to murder (Section 307), causing hurt by means of poison (Section 328), and causing disappearance of evidence of offence (Section 201). The prosecution had urged the court to award Sooraj death sentence as it was the rarest of the rare cases. The prosecution had told the court that the 28-year-old had committed four out of the five acts listed by the Supreme Court of India as reasonable grounds for awarding the death sentence.
The sensational, rarely heard crime, which came to be known as the Uthra murder case, was committed on May 7, 2020 at Sooraj's house at Anchal in Kerala's Kollam district. The crime branch wing of the state police carried out a detailed probe and even used a dummy to recreate the incident. The cobra that had bitten Uthra was 150 centimetre long, and the bite by such a snake would cause only a 1.7 or 1.8 cm-deep puncture on the human body. Investigators who conducted the dummy experiment established that Sooraj had held the snake's hood against Uthra's body, causing the puncture to go as deep as 2.3 and 2.8 cms. Sooraj made the first attempt to get a snake to bite Uthra on February 29, 2020. During the second attempt on March 2, 2020, Uthra was bitten by a viper, and admitted to a hospital in Thiruvalla for 56 days. She was recovering at Eram, in Anchal, when she received the fatal snakebite on the night of May 6. She died the next day. Suresh, a resident of Chavarukavu, Kalluvathukkal, turned approver in the case. He had sold the cobra to Sooraj. Other related cases, domestic violence and one registered by the forest department against Sooraj and his parents are at the trial stage.