The CBI is convinced and the court has accepted that Sister Abhaya was raped and murdered

via published on November 23, 2008

Abhaya case: Till now

Background of the case

Sister Abhaya, daughter of M. Thomas in Areekara, in Kottayam District was a second year pre-degree student in B.C.M. College in 1992, at Kottayam, which belonged to the diocese of Kottayam and was a resident of St. Pius Xth Convent, which is situated within the city limits. The convent also provided lodging and boarding for university girl students. She was said to be of good habits, normal behaviour, maintained healthy and cordial friendship as per hostel rules and with all the inmates and absolutely had no mental disorder or any psychological aberration.

On 27 March 1992, in the wee hours of the day, she was found dead in the water well of the Convent. There was no convincing answer from any quarter for the mysterious death of Abhaya. What people gathered from the nuns of the Convent was that she may have committed suicide due to mental disorder.

Various investigations

Kerala police

Initially, the local police investigated the case wrote it off as suicide, based on postmortem report. It is widely believe that they are forced to destroy key evidences such as the nun’s clothes and other personal belongings during the investigation due to some forces were trying to influence the investigation. (Later, the former police official, who investigated the murder and closed it as a case of suicide, had undergone Narco Analysis test in 2007). During the initial inquiry, the postmortem, chemical examination and laboratory report also had been erased and then rewritten due to other influence. Reports also indicated that some laboratory officials did not willing to cooperate with police during the initial inquiry.

Crime branch

On 7 April 1992, the Director General of Police of Kerala directed the Crime Branch section of the Kerala police to take up the investigation due to relentless protest by the Action Council. The Crime Branch submitted its report before the Sub-Divisional Magistrate (RDO) on 30 January 1993. However, as per the report, the Crime Branch had nothing more to say than what was explained by the local police as they too had reached the conclusion that she had committed suicide.


The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), India’s premier investigating agency, started investigating the unnatural death of Sister Abhaya on 29 March 1993, under the direct supervision of its officer Varghese P. Thomas. He was then serving as deputy superintendent (DSP) of CBI. While the CBI investigation was in progress, the Superintendent of Crime Branch, K.T. Michael, who initially investigated and reported the death as “suicide”, obtained written permission from the RDO (Rural Development Officer) to take possession of Abhaya’s personal articles – her veil, chappels, personal diary and such other personal goods that are of high evidenciary value from the RDO court. The whereabouts of all those items which has been considered as critical evidences, are found missing now.

DSP’s controversial resignation

Surprisingly, on 30 December 1993, Varghese P. Thomas resigned from the service of CBI and from the investigation of Abhaya’s death. He had seven more years in service to retire. Varghese P.Thomas was a brilliant and honest police officer and for his meritorious services he was awarded the prestigious President’s National Medal. He had finally arrived at the conclusion that Abhaya’s death was a clear case of murder and he had recorded it as such in the CBI Diary. Subsequently on 19 January 1994, he called a special press conference in Cochin and announced that he had resigned from CBI as his conscience did not permit him to comply with a strong directive given by his superior officer, V. Thyagarajan, the then Superintendent of CBI Cochin Unit, who had asked Varghese P. Thomas to record the death of Abhaya as suicide in the CBI Diary. With this press conference, the case of Sr.Abhaya caught media attention all over India and the matter was strongly debated in the parliament as well as in the Kerala state assembly on several occasions.

Court criticizing CBI

The Chief Judicial Magistrate (CJM) directed the CBI in its order dated 20 March 1997 to re-investigate the case. The court in its order strongly criticized the CBI for its loyalty and complicity to certain vested interests to defeat the ends of justice and the court observed that the CBI had not made party some very significant persons who otherwise emerged in the facts of the case quite evidently. The court also asserted its belief that the case could have easily been established had there been an honest and proper investigation. Further the court took very serious exception to the role of the Crime Branch officers, mentioning K.T. Michael by name for the distorted course of investigation from the beginning. The court has observed that certain “invisible hands” were still trying to scuttle the Sister Abhaya murder case observing that these forces were trying to influence the investigating agencies and the government officials.

Developments since 2007

A report stated that the original chemical examination report of the vaginal swab and vaginal smear of Abhaya has been found to be tampered with. The manuscript of the workbook report from the Chemical Examination Laboratory shows over-writing at four places. Using a whitener and different ink, the word ‘‘not’’ has been added to the word ‘‘detected,’’ so as to contradict the result for testing semen detection in vagina. Varghese P Thomas, who was the first to point to murder, said the post mortem and lab reports had ruled out rape, leaving no scope for suspicions on the veracity of the report. According to the latest news CBI investigation has come to a conclusion that the Sister Abhaya was murdered according to a pre plan. They arrive to a point that Abhaya witnessed some thing happening illegal, days before her murder and this prompted her executors to terminate her to spoil that evidence. The crime was committed knowing that she will come to get drinking water from the refrigerator at early morning and it was done with the help of more than two people.

As part of its investigation the CBI has conducted a Narco Analysis tests on Fr.Thomas Kottoor, Fr. Jose Poothrikkayil, Sr. Stefy and a former police officer who may have some knowledge about the death of Abhaya. This last interim report filed by the CBI team captain SP R M Krishna before the Ernakulam Chief Judicial Magistrate Court on 11 December 2007 the team was still trying to unravel the mystery behind the ‘unnatural death of Sister Abhaya’. The report, submitted in a sealed envelope to Ernakulam CJM. It didn’t speak of any progress in the re-inquiry during the past three months.


On January 11, 2008, the Kerala High Court directed the CBI to produce the result of the Narco-analysis test conducted on the suspects in the case in a sealed cover before the court within two weeks. The court further directed that no third person having any right of disclosure of the content of the results till the appropriate stage, other than the High Court. In this regard, the CBI submitted it before the court on January 21, 2008. The results were submitted in a sealed cover as directed by the court. In a latest press release the CBI confirmed that Fr Thomas Kotoor is proven as the murderer through the Narco Analysis Test but waiting for more evidence for the arrest to be made.

Present status

CBI arrested two priests, Fr. Thomas Kottoor, Fr Jose Puthrukayil and Siister Sefy on the 19th of November 2008. The CBI is convinced and the court has accepted that she was raped and murdered.

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