The Kerala High Court on Wednesday stayed the proceedings in the Sister Abhaya death case now pending before the Central Bureau of Investigation’s special court in Thiruvananthapuram.

Justice V.K. Mohanan issued the stay order on a petition filed by Jomon Puthenpurackal challenging the special court’s order dismissing his petition seeking further investigation in the case. The special court had posted the case to January 19 for trial.

The petition alleged that the special court had miserably failed to appreciate facts in the case. The special court had said that a further investigation would again delay the trial. The special court had erroneously concluded that none of the developments, including tampering with the work register at the forensic laboratory, warranted a detailed further investigation. The destruction of case properties had not been considered by the special court with the seriousness it deserved. The court had made a feeble and legally untenable attempt to justify the destruction of case properties.

The CBI had submitted that it had found substantial scientific and circumstantial evidence to try the accused in the case.

The CBI had taken the stand that though there were no eyewitnesses to the incident which took place on March 27, 1992, it had collected sufficient evidence to try the accused, Fr. Jose Poothrukayil, Fr. Thomas M. Kottoor, and Sister Stephi.

The CBI’s case was that Sr. Stephi had hit Abhaya three times on the head with the blunt side of an axe when the 19-year-old entered the convent’s kitchen to drink water and found the accused in ‘objectionable circumstances.’

The prosecution’s charge was that the accused had thrown Abhaya into the convent’s well to make her death appear as if it was a case of suicide or an accident.

The agency had concluded that the inquest report filed by the State police was ‘false and forged’ and that Abhaya’s death was a classic case of homicidal drowning.

The CBI had filed three reports in the case, the first one saying that Abhaya had committed suicide.

In its second report, the agency had stated that it could not establish beyond doubt whether Abhaya had committed suicide or was murdered. Finally in 2008, the agency submitted the final report in the case stating that the nun was murdered.

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