NATIONAL

Kanchi case: prosecution submits 81 `additional documents'

CHENNAI, DEC. 6. Letters, bank transactions, telephone details and statements of direct witnesses to the conspiracy and murder of Sankararaman comprise the 81 "additional documents" furnished by the prosecution when the Kanchi Acharya, Jayendra Saraswathi's bail plea came up for hearing in the Madras High Court today.

The senior counsel for the prosecution, K.T.S. Tulsi, gave the "additional information collected during the last five days," amid protest from the Acharya's senior counsel, I. Subramaniam.

Mr. Tulsi claimed that an assistant to the Acharya had given the originals of more than 30 letters written by Sankararaman between May 6, 2002 and August 30, 2004. "We will not name the Mutt employee lest he would also be forced to retract his statements," he said. Of these letters, 33 were addressed to the Acharya. Two more letters were recovered from the residence of a business associate of the second accused, Ravi Subramaniam.

Mr. Tulsi also told Justice R. Balasubramanian that the prosecution had a list of telephone calls along with the date, time and duration of the calls and conversation between the accused, including the Acharya.

When the Acharya's counsel insisted on knowing the telephone number, Mr. Tulsi said the defence was not entitled to any of the materials at this stage.

Submitting further information on the withdrawal of cash from the Sankara Mutt accounts, the senior advocate said that above Rs. 50 lakhs had been withdrawn from three accounts, one each in ICICI Bank, Indian Overseas Bank and Indian Bank. On one day, three different bearer-cheques were issued to the same person and Rs. 25 lakhs was withdrawn, Mr. Tulsi said.

Four direct witnesses, who were present in the vicinity of the Kancheepuram Varadarajaperumal temple at the time of the murder, had identified the assailants. Four other witnesses had identified the accused persons in identification parades.

More important, a friend of Sankararaman had recorded his statement detailing how the victim had told him a few days prior to the murder that if something happened to him it would be only at the instigation of the Acharya. "It is an admissible evidence, and in the nature of dying declaration," Mr. Tulsi said. There were some more witnesses who had seen the Acharya in the company of the assailants, with one of them seeing the Acharya along with the assailants a day before the murder, counsel said.

`Careful investigation'

He said the prosecution had documentary proof to show that the Acharya and the second accused, Ravi Subramaniam, were partners in a construction business, which was later given to Mr. Subramaniam himself. To avoid a "tirade launched against the prosecution in the media," the entire interrogation of the Acharya in police custody had been contemporaneously video-recorded. Before winding up the argument, Mr. Tulsi said: "In my career, both as defence and prosecution lawyer spanning several decades, I have not come across a more scrupulous and careful investigation than this. Let us not defame the prosecution."

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