Kerala HC denies bail to woman accused of murdering and eating woman as sacrifice to Goddess Kali

The Kerala High Court has refused to show leniency to the accused in a shocking incident in which three people, including a husband and wife, conspired to kill multiple women, sexually abuse them and eat their private parts.

TODAY, the High Court of Kerala has denied bail to a woman accused of torturing and killing a woman, cutting her private parts, cooking and eating them in order to appease Goddess Kali for financial prosperity.

While hearing the bail application, Justice Sophy Thomas said: “Here is a case which has shattered the conscience of the society as a whole and it is a shame to the entire humanity. The allegations will show that wickedness and cruelty of the human mind has gone beyond any proportions.”

Brief facts

As per the prosecution’s case, three accused persons, one Muhammed Shafi, Bhagawal Singh and his wife Laila, hatched a criminal conspiracy in Elanthoor, Kerala in 2022.

Under the guise of human sacrifice to appease Goddess Kali, they committed the murder of a 48-year-old lady.

Reportedly, the three had committed a similar human sacrifice of another lady as well around the same time.

The deceased was a lottery ticket vendor who was enticed by Muhammed Shafi, who offered her ₹10 lakh under the pretext of acting in an adult film and abducted her to the house of the two accomplices (Bhagawal Singh and his wife Laila).

The three of them then tortured and killed the deceased. They cut the body parts of the deceased into eight pieces. The deceased’s private body parts were cooked and consumed by Singh and Laila.

After that, the three destroyed evidence whereby the belongings of the deceased and her remaining body parts were buried in a pit dug in the compound of the house of the two accomplices.

Initially, the Kerala police registered a case of a missing person under Section 57 (police to attempt to locate missing persons) of the Kerala Police Act, 2011 on a complaint lodged by the deceased’s daughter.

However, upon investigation, the police found that the deceased had been murdered by the three under the superstitious belief that it would bring financial prosperity to them.

Laila had applied for regular bail under Section 439 (special powers of the high court or court of session regarding bail) of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 (CrPC).

Laila was arrested for the offences punishable under Sections 302 (punishment for murder), 376D (gang rape), 364 (kidnapping or abducting in order to murder), 370(1)(vi) (trafficking of persons by practising fraud, or deception), 379 (punishment for theft), 120B (punishment for criminal conspiracy), 342 (punishment for wrongful confinement), 297 (trespassing on burial places, etc.) and 201 (causing disappearance of evidence of offence, or giving false information to screen offender) read with Section 34 (acts done by several persons in furtherance of common intention) of the Indian Penal Code, 1860.

The State vehemently opposed the bail before the high court. It argued that the offence committed by Laila and “its modus operandi is beyond human imagination”.

The prosecution argued that it had collected clear-cut evidence, both factual and scientific, to prove the involvement of Laila in the conspiracy.

Lastly, the State submitted that even though she is a woman, Laila is not eligible to be released on bail as her presence in society itself will be a source of danger.

Against this, the counsel representing Laila submitted that the accused is a 59-year-old lady and has been in jail since October 25, 2022. The counsel requested leniency under the first proviso to Section 437(1)(ii) of the CrPC.

The proviso provides that bail could be granted if a person is under the age of sixteen years or is a woman or is sick or infirm.

The counsel argued that since the investigation was over and the final report had been filed, there was no need for the accused to be detained any longer.

It argued that the alleged act of Laila could, at most, attract an offence punishable under Section 201 of the IPC for destroying evidence. However, there is nothing to show that she had any role in the criminal conspiracy.

What did the Kerala High Court say?

The high court perused the case diary as well as the final report submitted to the court. Based on this, it remarked that how the alleged offence has been committed is “really shocking and beyond human imagination.”

The court asserted that Shafi is a “born criminal” and a “sexual pervert”. He exploited the superstition of Singh and Laila.

It stated that Shafi wanted to sexually exploit the ladies and in furtherance of this, he planned a human sacrifice at the house of the two accused persons assuring financial prosperity by pleasing Goddess Kali.

Shafi even offered to bring more human beings to be sacrificed. The court found that the chat history produced by the prosecution is “sufficient” to unfurl the conspiracy.

Further, it said that the alleged incident happened within the house in which Singh and Laila resided.

The court acknowledged that Laila had argued that she was not present in the house at the time the human sacrifices were allegedly committed.

On this, it stated that murders could not have taken place without her knowledge. Moreover, there are statements of witnesses to prove the involvement in the planning, preparation and execution of the murder of the deceased.

The court described the involvement of Laila in the incident. It stated that she had arranged a pit to bury the body parts of the deceased. Before that, she had cooked the private parts of the deceased and had taken nude photographs of the deceased on her mobile phone.

Singh and Laila took a ring the deceased was wearing and pledged it in private finance after the incident.

Based on all these considerations, the court said: “The available facts and circumstances prima facie point to the fact that the petitioner (A3) was also a part of the criminal conspiracy, and she actively participated in its brutal execution and so she cannot claim any leniency as a woman.”

The court denied bail to Laila and stated that if she is released on bail, it would affect social peace and tranquillity and her presence in society would be a source of danger. 

It concluded: “Her release may be a black mark on the conscience of the society, and it may send a wrong message to like-minded criminals.

If allegations [of human sacrifice] are found to be true, it will be a heavy blow on rich cultural heritage and cent percent literacy boasted by Kerala the ‘God’s own country’. Moreover, if the allegations are proved, the accused persons either male or female, are not worth the name ‘human beings’.” the court remarked.