In a significant judgement, the Hyderabad High Court acquitted P Satyam Babu, who had spent many years in jail, for the rape and murder of Ayesha Meera, a 17-year-old pharmacy student in Vijayawada.
The murder took place in 2007, and Satyam Babu was convicted by a Vijayawada women’s special sessions court in 2010, and sentenced to imprisonment for life.
However, family members of the victim and Satyam Babu had held at the time that he was not guilty, and that he was falsely framed in the case. In spite of the victim’s family alleging that a politician’s family was involved in the murder, the young man was arrested and made to pay the price for the crime.
The HC has now directed the Andhra Pradesh government to pay Rs 1 lakh compensation to the youth, who spent eight years in jail without any evidence of his involvement. It also ordered action against the police officers, who investigated the case.
The victim was a first year pharmacy student and was living in a private ladies hostel in Ibrahimpatnam near Vijayawada. On the night of December 27, 2007, her blood-stained body was found in the hostel’s bathroom, with multiple stab injuries.
The ‘murderer’ was even reported to have dropped a letter, which claimed that the girl was raped and killed for refusing his proposal.
In August 2008, almost a year after the victim was killed and the State Human Rights Commission (SHRC) took up the case, the police arrested Satyam Babu.
Satyam Babu was arrested in a cell phone robbery case on August 17 that year, and the police had claimed that he had confessed to her murder during interrogation.
However, several activists had alleged that the police arrested Satyam Babu only so they could let the grandson of former deputy CM Koneru Ranga Rao off the hook.
The parents of the victim, Shamshad Begam and Iqbal Basha, also alleged that relatives of the then state Minister Koneru Ranga Rao were involved in the rape and murder.
They also alleged that a Dalit youth was being made a scapegoat to save the real culprits.
Satyam Babu’s arrest was condemned widely and called an eyewash as he could barely walk properly, due to a neurological disorder. The youth had been suffering from GB Syndrome, which had badly affected his nervous system and his two legs were paralysed.
Ranga Rao had then denied these allegations. According to reports, he told the media that he would not stop the killing of his grandson in an encounter, even if there was an iota of evidence to show that he was the “demon” who raped and murdered the girl.
In May 2010, the police claimed that Satyam Babu had escaped from their custody at Suryapet, while the security got out of the vehicle to buy some food. However, activists immediately alleged that they were trying to frame Satyam Babu and shoot him down in a fake encounter.
He was arrested again, within a few hours of his escape. Satyam Babu was then convicted and has been in jail since then.
In September 2010, the sessions court convicted Satyam Babu to 14 years in under section 302 of IPC for murder and 10 years of rigorous imprisonment under section 376 of IPC for rape.
Reversing the conviction, the Hyderabad High Court has asked the police to ‘punish those who framed him’.
Following the court order on Friday, the victim’s parents said that Rs1 crore should be given as compensation for Satyam Babu and demanded that the government set up a fast-track court to try and punish the real culprits.