M A I N   N E W S

Seer remanded in judicial custody
Refused lawyer during interrogation
Arup Chanda
Tribune News Service

Chennai, November 22
The Kanchi Shankaracharya today received some relief from the Kancheepuram Judicial Magistrate as the judge refused to extend his police custody as sought by the prosecution for his alleged involvement in a murder case.

The seer was produced in the court at Kancheepuram, 70 km from here, this morning. The prosecution sought extension of the police remand for another day as the investigators wanted to question the seer regarding some bank transactions as it could not do so as yesterday was a bank holiday.

The seer was remanded in police custody for three days on Thursday and it ended at 10. 30 am today. The prosecution admitted that Jayendra Saraswathi was cooperating with the police.

The Magistrate, Mr G. Uttamarajan, asked the seer for his comments on the prosecution’s plea.

The Shankaracharya replied: “They have asked all the questions they wanted. I do not think there is anything more for me to say and I do not want to stay in police custody as it is not necessary.”

The seer also told the Magistrate that he was not tortured in police custody and a doctor examined him thrice a day.

Defence counsel, too, opposed the prosecution plea seeking extension of the police remand, saying that the seer’s presence was not needed for examining bank accounts.

The Magistrate then turned down the police plea and remanded the Shankaracharya in judicial custody till November 26.

While dismissing the petition, Mr Uttamarajan said the seer had already been sufficiently interrogated and there was no need to grant further custody.

He said that the relevant bank accounts could be examined and the seer’s presence in police custody was not required.

The Hindu pontiff was then escorted out of the court and taken to Vellore Central Prison, 140 km from here, amidst tight security. However, the Madras High Court today dismissed the petition challenging the order of the Kancheepuram Judicial Magistrate remanding the seer in police custody for three days. While Mr Justice A.K. Rajan upheld the seer’s police custody granted by the Magistrate, he first granted permission to a lawyer’s presence during the pontiff’s interrogation but later reversed his own order.

Meanwhile, the Kanchi Mutt today stepped up its campaign against the arrest of the Shankaracharya and described the murder charge against him as “outrageous”. A mutt spokesman hoped “the dark hour too shall pass”. He said, “The simple, selfless saint of the masses is now facing an outrageous charge. Such a charge is directed against the very Acharya whose compassion has reached millions with his helping hand. It is indeed the darkest hour for his devotees and those interested in following the tenets of Hindu dharma.”


Man ends life over seer’s arrest

Coimbatore, November 22
A 30-year-old Hindu Munnani activist allegedly committed suicide today by consuming poison in protest against the arrest of Kanchi seer Jayendra Saraswati.

In his letter, Shanmugam had stated that the Shankaracharya had a large following and was a revered leader of the Hindus and liked by people of other communities. Hurt over the ‘ill-treatment’ meted out to the seer and to register protest, he decided to end life, the police said here. — UNI

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