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Court acquits Kanchi seers in 2004 Sankararaman murder case

Puducherry, Nov 27 (PTI): A special court on Wednesday acquitted Jayendra Saraswati, the Shankaracharya or head of the Kanchi mutt, and his junior Vijayendra Saraswathi for lack of evidence in the sensational 2004 murder of a temple official.

Pronouncing the verdict in a packed court hall amid tight security, Principal District and Sessions Judge C S Murugan declared that the two along with 21 others, of the total of 24 accused, stood acquitted of the charges made out against them as “there is no incriminating evidence against the accused.”

One of the accused, Kathiravan, was murdered in March this year in Chennai.

The judge said the motive for the commission of murder was not proved, since Padma and Anand Sharma, wife and son of murdered Varadarajaperumal temple manager, A Sankararaman respectively, had failed to support the prosecution’s case.

The two Kanchi seers were among those who had been charged with criminal conspiracy and murder of Sankararaman, who was hacked to death in the temple premises on the evening of September 3, 2004.

The judge referred to “undue interest and active participation” by the then police chief of Kancheepuram, Prem Kumar, in the probe, which also found mention in the Supreme Court order while granting bail to Jayendra Saraswati.

The judge observed that the police officer's action was much beyond what was required under law during the investigation.

Due to intervention of Prem Kumar in the investigation, the chief investigation officer (CIO) had not done a fair and proper investigation, the order said.

The CIO failed to do independent investigation and did not place all the materials collected by some of the investigating officers other than those arrested by them, the judge said.