Pratibha Murthy case: Life imprisonment for cab driver

Pratibha Murthy case: Life imprisonment for cab driver

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Bangalore:  Eighty-year-old Gowramma broke down after she heard that the taxi driver who raped and killed her daughter had been sentenced to life in prison.

Earlier this week, the judge of a fast-track court in Bangalore said that charges had been proved against Shiva Kumar.

"Where is the question of peace," asked Gowramma, who brought up Pratibha alone after her husband died shortly after Pratibha's birth. "I lost my beautiful daughter. There's no peace for me. My house is just like a jail. Shiva Kumar at least has company in jail. I am all alone.  I hope my daughter's soul gets a little peace" she said. (Watch) 

Pratibha's family wanted the death sentence for Shiva Kumar.

In 2002, Shiva Kumar showed up to collect Pratibha Murthy, 20 and newly-married, for the night shift at the call centre where she worked. He told her that the driver rostered for that night was on leave, and that he was the replacement. He then took her to a deserted area on the outskirts of Bangalore and raped and killed her.

Pratibha's death forced the BPO industry to drastically revamp the security it provides for women employees. Now, security guards are sent in cabs with women working on the night shift. 

After Pratibha died, her husband has left Bangalore, and has remarried, but has been tracking her case. 

Shiva Kumar's wife was seven months into her pregnancy when Pratibha was murdered. She delivered after he was arrested, and then left him soon after.  However, she was present in court today.

During the trial, more than 70 witnesses were examined, including the driver who was meant to pick up Pratibha. He arrived just a few minutes after Pratibha had left with Shiva Kumar. He then called her to ask where he was, and she put Shiva Kumar on the phone. Neither the driver nor Pratibha were suspicious at that point of Shiva Kumar.

The trial revealed that he had tried to collect two women that same night before Pratibha. The first had already left for work when he phoned her; the second found it strange that he did not know the directions to her house, and chose not to use him for her ride to work.

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