22 others also let off as murder charge was not proved; many witnesses turned hostile
The Kanchi Sankaracharya, Sri Jayendra Saraswathi, and the junior Acharya, Sri Vijayendra Saraswathi, were acquitted by a Sessions Court here on Wednesday in the Sankararaman murder case, bringing an eight-year trial to a close.
The court also acquitted 22 other accused, including one who had died during the trial.
In the nearly 250-page judgment, Principal District Sessions Judge C.S. Murugan said the September 3, 2004 murder of A. Sankararaman, manager of the Sri Varadarajaperumal temple at Kancheepuram, had not been proved because more than 20 prosecution witnesses turned hostile. Further, the witnesses who identified the accused in a parade failed to do so before the court.
The court also referred to a Supreme Court observation — in the order granting bail to Sri Jayendra Saraswathi — that Prem Kumar, then Superintendent of Police, Kancheepuram (since deceased), had taken an undue interest and active participation in the investigation, beyond what was required under the law. This was proved by witnesses. What with his intervention, a fair and proper probe was not done by the Chief Investigating Officer.
The accused included N. Sundaresan, who was manager of the Sankara Mutt; the junior pontiff’s brother M.K. Raghu; and K.G. Krishnasamy alias Appu. The trial was shifted to Puducherry from Tamil Nadu in 2005.