Armogam Kounder was convicted in 2000 for raping and murdering a minor girl. However, in 2006, he was acquitted after a policeman left a suicide note admitting to have falsely implicated him. Now, the apex court has directed the Bombay high court reopen the case.
The case dates back to 1995, when Kounder (then 29 years old), a rag-picker, was arrested for raping and murdering a 6-year-old girl in Andheri.
His advocate Asim Sarode said that Kounder,a native of Tamil Nadu, did not even follow Hindi, and that he didn’t realise he was being picked up for offences as serious as rape and murder.
He was sentenced to life imprisonment by the sessions court on April 19, 2000, on the basis of his confessions.
Advocate Sarode had, however, alleged that the police mercilessly beat up Kounder to extract a confession from him. Following this, in 2001, police inspector Abdul Kadir, an investigating officer in Kounder’s case, committed suicide. He left a suicide note saying that Kounder was not the real culprit.
On the basis of the note, the HC set aside his conviction on September 7, 2006 and released him from Yerwada prison. He then filed a petition in the HC seeking compensation of Rs50 lakh from the state government, which is pending hearing.
Meanwhile, the state government approached the Supreme Court, challenging Kounder’s acquittal.
The Supreme Court set aside his acquittal observing: “In our view, the high court should have considered not just the suicide note, but also the entire evidence on record and decided the appeal on merits giving reasons for its judgment.”
After his release from prison, Kounder was working at Chaitanya Mental Health Care in Pune. Sarode said that he has now returned to Tamil Nadu. He would have to be brought back to Mumbai to face the retrial.