Will the Truth come out ?

published on August 4, 2008

Abhaya case: HC doubts authenticity of CBI-produced CD

Pioneer News Service | Kochi

The Kerala High Court on Monday raised serious apprehensions about the CBI’s conduct in the investigations in the Sr Abhaya murder case by suspecting that the compact disc containing the recording of the narco-anlayses of two priests and a nun, which the investigating agency presented to the court, could be doctored. Legal experts felt that the Abhaya case could be once again running into a hard-wall with the CBI repeating its earlier decision that there were no evidences before it to move on.

The court observed that the recordings in the CD were incomplete. Earlier the CBI had presented the findings of the narco-analyses in the Chief Judicial Magistrate Court, Ernakulam. The High Court asked the CBI counsel why this practice was not followed in the case of the CD presented to it. The court would consider the case again on Tuesday. It also indicated the report of progress in investigation and the recording in the CD were not matching.

Justice V Ramkumar, who was hearing the case, asked the CBI whether it was satisfied about the conduct of the narco-analysis at the agency’s Central Forensic Label in Bangalore. He pointed out that there was shortcoming in the very conduct of the analyses as the person who had subjected priests Thomas Kottoor and Jose Puthukka and nun Sr Steffi to the analyses was not well-versed in Malayalam. This could have affected the scientific strength of the analysis, it was pointed out. The CBI had presented the CD containing the recording of the narco-analyses to the court on its direction last week.

As the hearing proceeded, counsel for M Thomas, Abhaya’s father, put forward to the court a revealing request that further probe in the case should be made under the direct supervision of the High Court. This request, legal experts said, reflected the general feeling that the case is losing its focus in the CBI hands.

Thomas also asked the court to direct the CBI to present the entire files of the investigation into the case till date so that the court could take over the supervision of the probes. The CBI counsel told the court about the difficulties in proceeding with the case as all the evidences on the murder had been lost due to the mix-ups during the initial probes by local police and the Crime Branch.

The CBI’s position in the case had generated a lot of doubts in the Kerala society after it first submitted in the court that Sr Abhaya had indeed been murdered but it could not find out the culprit(s) as the evidences were lost. With the return of a member of that CBI team, which then had asked the High Court for permission in this context, as the head of the present probe team, had generated more doubts about the CBI’s intentions.

On July 9, the head of the CBI team probing the case was transferred just when the team was saying that the investigation was in its final stages. RN Krishna, SP, head of the premier investigation body, was replaced by RS Puniya. Krishna was to join the Lucknow offices of the agency from where Puniya was transferred to Kochi to take over the Abhaya case investigation.

Sister Abhaya was found murdered in the well of the St Pius X Convent, where she was a nun, in the wee hours of March 27, 1992. There were no convincing explanation from any quarter on the mysterious death of the nun. The earlier impression, based on the statements by the other nuns at the convent, was that she could have committed suicide due to some mental disorder.

Abhaya, daughter of M Thomas, Areekara, Kottayam, was a second-year pre-degree student at BCM College, Kottayam, when she was murdered. The college belonged to the diocese of Kottayam and she was a resident of the St Pius X Convent. Abhaya was said to be of good habits, normal behaviour, and was said to have been maintaining healthy and cordial friendship as per hostel rules and with all the inmates and absolutely had no mental disorder or any psychological aberration.

Initially, the local police investigated the case and wrote it off as a suicide, based on the postmortem report. It was believed that they were forced to destroy key evidences such as the nun’s clothes and other personal belongings during the investigation due to external influences. (The former police official, who investigated the murder and closed it as a case of suicide, had undergone narco-analysis in 2007).

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