Nun’s Murder – Justice Basant ignores Justice Hema’s orders, giving new hope to truthseekers

published on January 8, 2009

Justice Basant to oversee Abhaya case

KOCHI: Justice R Basant will oversee the
CBI investigation in the Sister Abhaya murder case. The Kerala High Court
also asked the present CBI team to continue investigation in the case.
The court also directed the CBI DIG and joint director to lead the case.
The court’s directive came while considering the plea of the CBI seeking
a clarification on the order of Justice Hema granting bail to the three
accused in the Abhaya murder case

HC judge ignores colleague’s orders

Kochi | PNS

differences of opinion between two benches of the same court, Justice R
Basant of the Kerala High Court asked the CBI on Thursday to continue
its probe with its existing team in the Sr Abhaya murder case despite
an order from Justice K Hema of the same court that the probe should be
supervised by more senior and efficient officials.

Basant also said that there is no need to engage new officials to
supervise the probe now and the probe could proceed under the
supervision of the current higher officials, DIG Kanthaswami of the
Chennai unit of the CBI and Joint Director (South) Ashok Kumar. The
judge’s order, in effect, struck off the basic demands of the order
Justice Hema had made on January 1 while granting bail to the three
accused in the case.

Explaining his standpoint, the judge said
that a court considering bail pleas had no power to make observations
that were final and could jeopardise investigations. Justice Basant
made these significant observations while considering a CBI petition
seeking removal of ambiguity in the context of two conflicting orders
from different benches of the High Court.

The judge virtually
listed out the limits of power of a court handling bail petitions in a
clear message to Justice Hema who had in her order on the New Year day
found fault with almost each step the CBI had taken in the
investigations in the Sr Abhaya murder case. Justice Hema had granted
bail to the three Church persons, Fr Thomas M Kottoor, Fr Jose
Puthrukayil and Sr Seffi, a nun, the first, second and third accused

Justice Basant said the court dealing with bail
applications had the power only to make mentions related to the
granting of the bail or denial. A bench hearing bail plea had no powers
to examine details of the investigation and or to make any mention of
findings in the bail order, he said. Justice Hema had done committed
all this in her order granting bail to the trio.

The judge
asked why the CBI had made the order to engage a senior official to
supervise the probe such a big matter. The CBI counsel ordered that
there was ambiguity in the order and it could not proceed with the
investigation in this context. But Justice Basant said what the agency
should do when adverse remarks were made was not to freeze the
investigation but to continue it with greater determination.

the context of the differing orders from two benches, Justice Basant
had the other day deferred an order on which bench should monitor the
investigations into the Sr Abhaya case to Thursday, but he said that he
himself would continue to monitor the probe by the CBI. The CBI and the
counsel of the father of the murdered nun had appealed to Justice
Basant not to hand over this responsibility to another bench.

Hema had invited a lot of criticisms from different quarters for the
observations she had made in the bail order. She had said that the
media had gone out of their way to establish that the accused were
indeed the culprits to which the Kerala Union of Working Journalists
objected strongly. She had also contradicted an observation made
earlier by Justice V Ramkumar of the High Court that the CDs of reports
on the narco-analyses on the three accused had been manipulated.
Justice Ramkumar had concluded that the manipulation was carried out by
the CBI but Justice Hema said it was the Bangalore facility where the
analyses were carried out which had tampered with the CDs.

Thursday’s order from Justice Basant, the hurdles in the way of the
investigations into the murder had been apparently removed. The probe
had frozen following Justice Hema’s order that a more efficient and
experienced official should supervise

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