High Court order follows material available in two writ petitions pending disposal

The ongoing trial of the Swami Laxmanananda Saraswati murder case in a lower court in Kandhamal district is likely to take a new turn as the Orissa High Court on Thursday directed the State Crime Branch Police to file a fresh charge sheet.

A single-judge Bench of Justice M.M. Das asked the prosecution to file the charge sheet after conducting further investigations into the case based on material made available in two writ petitions pending disposal in the High Court.

The seer's disciple, Brahmachari Madhav Chaitanya, informant and key eyewitness in the case, and Vishwa Hindu Parishad leader Durga Prasanna Kar had filed two separate petitions in the High Court seeking an impartial enquiry by an independent agency — preferably the Central Bureau of Investigation — into the murder of the Hindu spiritual leader who was attacked several times before he was murdered in August 23, 2008 during the Janmashtami celebrations at the Jaleshpeta Ashram. The petitioners had alleged that although the Crime Branch Police had submitted two charge sheets in the case naming 14 accused, they had not investigated the role of a local Church which had reportedly passed a resolution in the presence of a senior State government officer just prior to the incident that the seer would be eliminated in order to restore peace in the district.

Pointing out discrepancies in the investigations, the petitioners had also brought to the notice of the High Court that just two days after the seer was murdered, two persons were apprehended by some locals while they were washing blood-stained clothes in a pond. The two were handed over to the police who in turn freed the duo under the pretext that they were not involved in the case as was revealed in a lie-detection test.

Alleging that the Crime Branch Police were unnecessarily beating about the bush, Madhav Chaitanya had told the court that although he was the informant and key eye witness in the case, he was neither examined by the prosecution nor was any test identification parade conducted for him to identify the nine accused who have since been arrested by the Crime Branch Police.

Trial in fast track court

A fast track court in Kandhamal district is currently holding trial in the case . The lower court has been restrained from passing any judgment in the case without the permission of the High Court.