Court ruling today on fate of Sankararaman murder trial

CHENNAI: The fate of the stalled murder trialagainst the Kanchi Sankaracharyas and others in the Sankararaman murder case will be known on Monday, when the Madras high court delivers its judgment on a batch of writ petitions.

Sankararaman, manager of the famous Varadaraja Perumal temple in Kancheepuram, was hacked to death inside the temple premises on September 3, 2004. Both heads of the Kanchi mutt – Jayendra Saraswathi and Vijayendra Saraswathi – were arrested, along with others, in connection with the murder. On a petition from them apprehending foul play, the Supreme Court shifted the trial to Puducherry.

While the trial was hurtling along in the sessions court at Puducherry with several key witnesses, including Sankararaman’s wife Padma turning hostile, it was stayed by the high court on August 25, 2011, after a petition was filed by advocate P Sundararajan alleging that audio tapes containing certain conversations had surfaced recently, indicating attempts to influence the trial through unfair means.

Several more petitions, including two by Padma, were later filed seeking registration of an FIR facilitating a probe into the origin and authenticity of the audio tapes, besides a fresh trial against the accused. After the interim orders were passed, the matter was placed before Chief Justice M Y Eqbal to be posted before another bench. The matter then went to a division bench headed by Justice D Murugesan, before being placed before a bench of justice K N Basha and justice N Paul Vasanthakumar. According to a cause list published by the high court, Justice Basha, sitting single, will pronounce the judgment. Justice Paul Vasanthakumar is sitting in the Madurai bench at present.

Yet another twist was added to the tale, when the then trial judge, T Ramasamy, was transferred a few weeks ago. The appointment of a new judge is awaiting formal notification by the Union Territory of Puducherry, as it is a deputation.

With most of the trial done and the original trial judge not at the helm anymore, whether the high court would vacate the stay; whether the court would order resumption of trial from where it was stalled last August; or whether it would order a fresh trial will become clear on Monday when justice Basha reads out the judgment.


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