After eight years in jail, Udupi man absolved of killing foster mother

After eight years in jail, Udupi man  absolved of killing foster mother

The Supreme Court on Tuesday set free a man from Udupi who spent over eight years in jail on the charge of killing his foster mother in 2006.

The man, sentenced to life imprisonment, was acquitted by the court as it found that he was implicated in order to rob him of assets bequeathed by the victim to him.

A bench of Justices J Chelameswar and A K Sikri set aside judgments of the Karnataka High Court as well as the trial court holding Ananda Poojary guilty of the murder of Dorathi Kutinho, a retired schoolteacher.

Dorathi had taken Poojary, her student, to her house at Najaru, Kelarkalabettu village, Udupi, and had showered love and affection like a mother. In her old age, there was nobody else to look after her as she was living with her only brother Rudolph Kutinho, who was mentally challenged. The woman had two foster brothers but they lived separately. One was a resident of the US.

She was so pleased with her student’s selfless service that she executed a will bequeathing all her movable and immovable properties to him. But, subject to one condition that Poojary would marry a Christian woman. She was affluent having lots of jewels and fixed deposits as well as investments in several banks and financial institutions.

On March 1, 2006, Dorathi was rushed to Adarsha Hospital after she complained of chest pain. By the time she reached hospital, she died. The doctor, who examined her, issued a certificate stating that she died of cardiac arrest. However, according to the post-mortem done a few days later, the cause of death was found to be asphyxia as a result of smothering.

Poojary was arrested after Dorathi’s two foster brothers lodged a complaint.
However, when the apex court looked minutely into statements of witnesses and circumstances, it concluded otherwise.

The court said since Poojary and Dorathi had a “very cordial and lovable relationship” which was as pure as that of a mother and son, it was very unlikely that he would kill her. It also found that Dorathi was of advanced age and suffered from hypertension, depression and other old age related ailments. Besides, she was an alcoholic.

“A very disturbing, but crucial, aspect emerged which was that all her assets were disposed of by her two brothers when the trial of the case was still on and the verdict of guilt had not been pronounced by the Sessions Judge. This speaks volumes about many possibilities and bolsters our conclusion that the appellant is an innocent person,” the court said.

The bench also noted an “equally startling” fact that Dorathi’s mentally-challenged brother died within few months of her death as there was nobody to look after him.

With regard to a charge of Poojary’s reluctance to marry a Christian, the court said that killing the woman could not have wiped off the condition stated in the will. The court also went through the post-mortem report and said it contained only tentative cause of the death.

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