M A I N   N E W S

Murder charges framed against
Shankaracharya and junior seer
Tribune News Service

Kancheepuram, January 21
The Tamil Nadu Police today filed the 1873-page charge sheet arraigning the two acharyas of Kanchi Mutt, Jayendra Saraswati and Vijayendra Saraswati for conspiring to murder Varadaraja Perumal temple manager Sankararaman.

The charge sheet was filed here by investigating officer ADSP Shaktivel in the presence of his superior Mr Prem Kumar in Judicial Magistrate Uttamarajan’s court under heavy police protection despite it being a state holiday on account of Id-ul-Azha.

Special Investigation Team’s boss Prem Kumar indulged in some drama by offering prayers to Lord Vishnu in the very temple where Sankararaman was hacked to death on September 3 last year and even placed the bulky file containing the charge sheet on the deity’s feet.

The magistrate committed the case to the Sessions court.

Though the prosecution had made snide remarks about the inauspicious period of raahu kalam, special care was taken today to ensure that the case was taken up only after 12 noon after the expiry of the feared hour.

Accused number one, the Shankaracharya, was arrested on November 11 last year and spent two months in jail. While he is out on conditional bail, the junior seer Vijayendra Saraswati, included in the case later as accused 2, who was arrested on January 10, continues to languish in the Chennai Central Prison in judicial custody.

After filing the charge sheet, Mr Prem Kumar told newsmen that its copies would be made available to all 25 accused early next week.

The case has been filed under Section 302 of the IPC, which carries a maximum sentence of death penalty.

The evidence of 370 witnesses formed the basis for the charge sheet, including other material that formed circumstantial evidence, Kumar said.

The trial will be conducted 20 km away in the Chengalpattu Sessions Court.

The only sour note in the whole thing was the resignation of public prosecutor Mr Jayakumar who had provided the basis for the charge sheet. Special prosecutor Mr Sampath has replaced him.

Replying to journalists about the questionability of the case in view of various reports, including the controversial “confession” of the senior seer while in custody being leaked to the media, Mr Kumar went philosophical saying, “I am a mere instrument in the hands of the Almighty. The presiding deity in the Varadaraja Perumal temple is conducting the real prosecution. To my knowledge, we have a very strong case. It is bound to result in conviction of all the accused.”

He avoided all questions about the possible return of senior pontiff Jayendra Saraswati to the Mutt in the light of the charge sheet being filed. “I cannot comment on that now,” he said.

Prosecution sources pointed out that several items of new evidence had been added to the case, which were not brought out during the hearings in the Supreme Court when the senior pontiff’s bail petition was being argued.

“These are additions made available to us after one of the key accused Ravi Subramanian turned approver,” they said.

However, so far, there is no concrete deal between Subramanian and the police on the issue of his turning approver. “We are being careful because already one of the accused, Kathiravan, has retracted his statement made under Section 164 of the CrPC,” prosecution sources added. Others important personalities included amongst the accused are Kanchi Mutt manager Sundaresha Iyer, Vijayendra Saraswati’s younger brother Raghu, the alleged killers Kathiravan and Chinna. The point man Appu, alias Krishnaswamy, too was one of the accused, but there were indications that he, too, would turn approver.

In all depositions of 370 witnesses and 712 documents have been filed along with the charge sheet. Meanwhile, Sankara Mutt officials refused to comment on the charge sheet. The Mutt officials at Kalavai, 40 km from here, where the seer has been camping since his release on bail on January 11, refused to say anything on the issue.

They were non-committal about the seer’s return to the Sankara Mutt at Kancheepuram. The Supreme Court, while giving bail to the seer, had said he should not visit the Kanchi Mutt till the charge sheet was filed in the case.

Unlike other days when this place buzzed with activities as devotees came calling on the seer there was a lull as no visitors came to met him.

The Kancheepuram police today questioned a number of persons in connection with the murder of Uttaradhi Mutt manager Srinivas Acharya yesterday morning.

The police aid, “We have also questioned neighbours around the Mutt. We are pursuing various clues meticulously,” Meanwhile, with the charge sheet filed in the Sankararaman murder case, Kanchi Seer Jayendra Saraswati, the key accused in the case, is likely to move a petition in the Supreme Court seeking permission to go to the Mutt here.

“We will move the Supreme Court again asking it to relax the conditions. We are moving the Supreme Court on Monday,” Mutt advocate, A Shanmugam, told reporters here.

While ordering the release of the Seer on bail, the court had said he would not visit the mutt premises till the charge sheet is filed. On the charge sheet filed today, Shanmugam said the prosecution had relied heavily on the confessional statement (under section 164 CrPC) by Ravi Subramaniam, who had expressed his desire to become an approver, before the Magistrate. The statement would in no way affect the defence case. “There is no concrete evidence against the acharya and the Mutt in the case other than the confessional statement,” he said. 

HOME PAGE | Punjab | Haryana | Jammu & Kashmir | Himachal Pradesh | Regional Briefs | Nation | Opinions |
| Business | Sports | World | Mailbag | Chandigarh | Ludhiana | Delhi |
| Calendar | Weather | Archive | Subscribe | Suggestion | E-mail |