SC Judge Cyriac Joseph’ dedication to his Religion

published on August 24, 2009

Nun murder case: Lawyers for action against SC judge

PNS | Kochi

Lawyers of the Kerala High Court will on Tuesday take up for discussion a resolution demanding action against Supreme Court judge Cyriac Joseph for his reported act of examining the recordings of the narco-tests on the Sr Abhaya murder. According to the CBI, Justice Cyriac Joseph had examined these recordings when he visited the Central Forensic Sciences Laboratory in Bangalore in May 2008 when he was Chief Justice of Karnataka.

The resolution by the Kerala High Court Advocates’ Association would ask President Pratibha Patel to order an investigation into the allegations against the judge pertaining to his visit to the Bangalore lab. A meeting of the executive committee of the association had the other day permitted the discussion after 62 members had put their signature in the resolution against Justice Cyriac Joseph.

The CBI had recently quoted Dr S Malini, former assistant director of the Bangalore lab as saying that the judge, a member of the powerful Knanaya Catholic Church, had examined the tapes of narco-tests on the three accused in the nun murder case, all of whom were the senior personalities of the same church. The murdered nun also had belonged to the Knanaya Catholic Community.

Lawyers in the High Court said that it was quite extraordinary that the lawyers of the High Court did not bring up resolutions against a judge of the Supreme Court normally. The resolution was likely to get passed after discussions on Tuesday, they opined. It would request the President to issue an order to the Judicial Reforms Committee of the Parliament to investigate why the judge had examined the recordings.

The resolution would say that the judge should have avoided the act of examining the narco-tapes pertaining to the controversial case involving his own Knanaya Catholic Community, especially when his visit to the laboratory was not said to be related to any administrative function of the Karntaka High Court of which he was Chief Justice then.

The resolution would also suggest that the visit by the judge to the lab and his examining the tapes were an offence as per the Indian Penal Code and a violation of the oath of office, sources in the legal fraternity said. Another demand the resolution would put forward was that the judge should be sent on compulsory leave till the proposed investigation was over.

Dr Malini’s statement, as quoted by the CBI in the court, had kicked up a controversy in the legal as well as social circles about the credibility of the Judiciary in controversial cases. Justice Cyriac Joseph had not given an explanation for his act and recently he had told mediamen at Kochi that he did not want to answer questions regarding this.

The judge had stirred up more dust of controversy immediately after the CBI statement in the court by speaking about his religious faith at a Laity conference held by the Syro-Malabar Church. At the programme, he said that he was proud to say that he was a devout member of the church and that he had been an active faith propagator before he began life in the Judiciary.

The judge said that he did not think he should surrender his faith in God and loyalty to the Church to the positions he had attained in the official life. “I am proud to tell you that the gain of positions has not diminished my faith and loyalty to the church,” he said. A section of the media had interpreted this as an act of violation of the oath he had taken as a judge but Justice Cyriac Joseph had not responded to that either.

The CBI’s revelation of Dr Malini’s deposition in the Sr Abhaya case had come as a shock to the Kerala society as the 17-year-old case had witnessed constant allegations about interference from the highest levels of the different sections of the Government. It was alleged that there were interventions even from the Prime Minister’s Office when PV Narasimha Rao was in power.

The CBI had stated in the court that according to Dr Malini, the judge’s visit was strictly personal and that particulars of the visit were recorded in the visitors’ register at the forensic facility. Sr Abhaya, a 21-year-old pre-degree student, was found dead in the well of St Pius X Convent in Kottayam on the morning of March 27, 1992. Fr Thomas M Kottoor, Fr Jose Puthrukayil and senior nun Sr Seffi, all of the Knanaya Catholic Church, were arrested as first, second and third accused respectively on November 19 last.

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