CHENNAI: Justice caught up with the killers of software engineer Uma Maheswari rather swiftly.
Around 30 months after three migrant workers had waylaid the TCS employee a few hundred metres away from her office at Siruseri on the outskirt of Chennai, a division bench of the Madras high court on Tuesday confirmed life imprisonment for all the three saying there was no reason to interfere with a trial court order or to reduce the quantum of sentence in the case.
The bench of Justice S Nagamuthu and Justice V Bharathidasan confirmed the life term for the three migrant workers from West Bengal — Ram Mandal, Uttam Mandal and Ujjal Mandal – and directed authorities to pay Rs 2 lakh to the family of the woman engineer from out of the Victim Compensation Fund (VCF) within four months.
In November 2014, a mahila court in Kancheepuram district sentenced them to undergo imprisonment for life. The trio escaped the noose by a whisker because the prosecution could not conclusively prove the charge of rape against them.
Uma Maheswari was intercepted and murdered near her office on February 13, 2014 sending shockwaves among working women in Tamil Nadu. Though she went missing around 10pm on February 13, 2014, her body was recovered nine days later, on February 22, from bushes in the vicinity.
The three were later arrested when they tried to use her ATM card. They were charged with rape and murder.
“Uma Maheswari’s body was recovered nine days later. As the body was fully decomposed, it was difficult for the investigation officers to medically prove that she had been raped before being murdered. This helped the trio escape death penalty as per the amended IPC provisions,” an investigation officer had told TOI after the mahila court verdict.
Meticulous investigations by police and analysis of phone call history led them to Ram and Uttam Mandal, and the duo confessed to the crime.
They also revealed the name of another accused, Ujjal Mandal, who had by then left for Kolkata by Howrah Mail. A police team went to Kolkata by air with the employer of the accused and nabbed Ujjal from a running train on February 26, 2014.
The confession of the accused led to recovery of a pair of ear studs, a copper ring and a mobile phone belonging to the victim.