Kerala High Court granted conditional bail and suspended the life sentence imposed on Sister Sephy and Fr Thomas Kottoor on Thursday. The two have been asked to furnish a bail amount of Rs five lakh each and have been barred from travelling outside Kerala.
The decision was taken on a plea submitted by the two convicts, that the Division Bench of Justice K Vinod Chandran and Justice C. Jayachandran suspended the sentence and granted bail. The CBI Special Court, on December 22, 2020, had found the two guilty of the murder of Sister Abhaya, a 20-year-old Knaya nun at St Pius Convent, Kottayam, when her body was found in the well of the Convent on March 27, 1992. The High Court had admitted their appeal against the trial court conviction on January 19, 2021, a month after the CBI Trial Court sentenced them to life imprisonment.
Their appeal had said that the CBI Special Court trial was riddled with ‘grave illegalities and irregularities’. It was also said that the conviction was based on the evidence of unreliable witnesses and the fiction they had thought up. The CBI is yet to file a counter affidavit in the High Court. The sentences of both the convicts will remain suspended till their appeal is heard.
Senior counsel B Raman Pillai, appearing for Kottoor, submitted in the High Court that the trial court had sentenced him to life imprisonment without any evidence. He said the findings against Kottoor did not match with the original charges against him. Pillai also argued that the CBI court had failed to unequivocally decide whether Sr Abhaya’s death was by homicide or suicide. The CBI trial court had charged Kottoor under three sections of the Indian Penal Code: 302 (murder), 201 (destruction of evidence) and 449 (house trespass). Sr Sephy was slapped with two: Sections 302 and 201.