Abhaya case: CBI to continue probe

via PNS | Kochi published on January 7, 2009

The Judiciary on Tuesday admitted that two different judges of the same court could issue conflicting orders on the same case, during the examination of a petition related to the sensational Sr Abhaya murder case whose truth still remained hidden even after almost 17 long years of investigations by different agencies.

Justice R Basant of the Kerala High Court said on Tuesday that the observations of Justice V Ramkumar in August last and Justice K Hema on January 1, who had manipulated the reports of the narco-analyses conducted on the three accused in the Sr Abhaya case had been contradictory, and needed further examinations to decide how this could be solved.

At the same time, Justice Basant, in effect, overruled an order by Justice Hema to direct the CBI team, presently in charge of the investigations, to continue the probe. Justice Hema in the January 1 order granting bail to the three accused church personalities had asked the CBI to engage a more senior and experienced person to supervise the investigations.

The CBI told Justice Basant that the probe was now being handled by a DySP of proven track record under the direct supervision of a DIG, overseen directly by a Joint Director and examined regularly by the agency’s Director himself. In this situation, the CBI said, the agency would have to revamp its entire structure to comply with Justice Hema’s order as there was no other more senior official in the agency.

Examining a petition requesting for a direction from the court as to whether the present probe team should continue the investigations, Justice Basant said that they could continue with the probe and that Justice Hema’s observations in the bail order need not be seen seriously at this juncture.

The judge said that Justice Hema could have meant only that there should be a senior official to supervise the investigations being conducted by the team headed by DySP Nandakumaran Nair and as this was already being done the agency need not worry about the instruction in the bail order.

Though Justice Hema had made the observations with assertive character after continuously grilling the CBI, which forced it to seek a transfer of the case from her bench, Justice Basant said that the bail order need not be seen as the final court order. He told the CBI not to freeze the investigations by citing Justice Hema’s order as an excuse as the entire State was eager to know the truth about Sr Abhaya murder case.

In his observations on last August, Justice Ramkumar of the High Court, who handled the Abhaya case before Justice Basant, had said that the CDs containing the results of the narco-analysis on Fr Thomas M Kottoor, Fr Jose Puthrukayil and Sr Seffi, first, second and third accused respectively in the murder case, had been tampered with.

Justice Ramkumar, after tedious examinations, had concluded that the manipulations were carried out at the CBI’s end and showered praises on the Central Forensic Sciences laboratory, Bangalore, where the analyses were done, and on Dr Malini, the expert who supervised the procedures there.

However, according to Justice Hema’s observations, the laboratory had edited and manipulated the CDs and Dr Malini was a suspect in this matter. Laboratory director Dr Mohan objected to this remark.

Justice basant on Tuesday admitted that this was indeed a serious contradiction and he had to examine in detail how the issue could be solved. He said he was considering the option of leaving the matter to a division bench but the CBI prayed that Justice Basant himself should hear the case in the future.

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