Wednesday, April 13, 2005
Appu and Kathiravan's lawyers unable to cross-examine approver, citing inability to prepare effective cross, as they have not received all the case documents from the Prosecution.
KS Dinakaran's petition to Magistrate Uttamaraaj asking the Prosecution be ordered to hand over list of evidences, witnesses and other documents related to discovery, was adjourned without a decision by Magistrate Uttamaraaj on April 11.
In other news, citing his order for all accused to appear in court today, Magistrate Uttamaraaj dismisses the Sankaracharyas' plea citing essential religious duties for absence from court.
Tuesday, April 12, 2005
Approver In the Hot Seat - further details of cross...
"Did you go to Pillayarpatti to seek forgiveness for your sins? Question put to Ravi Subramaniam"
Kanchipuram, April 12: Right after Sankarraman's muder, you went to Pillayarpatti [was it] to get forgiveness for your sins?, Defense lawyer for Vijayendrar [Swamigal], Senior Attorney T. Lakshmana Reddiyar raised a question to Ravi Subramaniam.
Lakshmana Reddiyar took up approver Ravi Subramaniam's cross-examination. In detail:
Lakshmana Reddiyar: When you and Appu went to the Mutt together, upon prime accused Jayendrar's say, when you met Vijayendrar, you lied that Raghu was there?
Ravi Subramaniam: What I said is true.
Q: That when you and Appu met Vijayendrar, that he then said to arrange for the money - what you said is a lie.
Q: After holding you in various locations, did police tell you to give Section 164 testimony according to what they had written down?
Q: Did you go to Pillayarpatti to get forgiveness for your sins in this case?
A: I went to bow to the Sami
Q: After the murder took place, did you have contact with your brothers or any relatives?
A: I did not have contact.
Q: Did you speak to any other friends? In whose house did you stay?
A: I spoke to Appu. Other than that, I spoke to my friend Ravi.
Q: You have said that you went to Pillayarpatti with the Viswanathan family. Are they extremely close to you? Did you phone them to come to Thirucchi Hotel?
A: Viswanathan, his wife Saraswati, his elder brother Ramesh, son Ajay, I went to Pillayarpatti with all of them. They are family friends. I phoned them to come to Chennai T-Nagar Mebsin Hotel.
Q: Did they come for your phone call without raising any objections?
Q: Did you say anthing about this case to Viswanathan's family?
Q: After the murder took place, you went to Pillayarpatti and returned. After that, or during interrogation, did you inform your address to the police?
Q: I say the testimony you gave under Section 164 and during the first hearing in this court is a blatant lie!
* * *
Approver Falters on Cross!
--admits grudge against key accused!
"Ravi Subramaniam's testimony obtained by police terrorizing him"
Kanchipuram, April 12: Varadarajan, former Sankaramatam manager Sundaresa Iyer's attorney accused police of obtaining testimony from Ravi Subramaniam, approver in Kanchipuram temple manager Sankrraman's murder through terrorizing him.
The cross-examination conducted on Tuesday in Kanchipuram court:
Varadarajan: Do you know that if the [Section] 164 testimony you gave and the testimony you gave in the first hearing in this court is refuted, you will face charges of murder and of perjury?
Ravi Subramaniam: I know
Q: After the murder was committed, did you see Sundaresa Iyer for the first time on October 6, 2004?
A: Yes. I saw him on September 1, 2004 also.
Q: Before 1998, did you and Sundaresa Iyer have any quarrels?
Q: Did Sundaresa Iyer block payment to you saying you did not do the construction on the Sankara College properly?
Q: Did Sundaresa Iyer block you from getting Rs 80 to a 100 crores worth of contracts for the Tamil Nadu hospitals?
Q: In 1998, after giving 12 crores to build a flat in Sankara Colony in Thiruvattriyoor, did he later switch this to Ramarao?
Q: Did Sundaresa Iyer try to close down your contract business?
Q: When you gave your Section 164 testimony in Kanchipuram 2nd Magistrate Court and when you gave testimony in Chengelpet Chief Criminal Magistrate Court, when did you say you were arrested?
(At this juncture, Special Prosecutor Balasundaram interrupted to say "you can ask this during the trial")
Q: When you gave testimony in Chengelpet Chief Criminal Magistrate Court, did [the Court] get a special statement from you regarding this case?
Q: On December 28 and December 29, 2004, did any Police Officer investigating this case meet you?
Ravi Subramaniam: At that time, I was under their custody. Investigating Officer Shaktivel was there.
Q: When you were arrested in Guruvayur, did police interrogate you and get a statement?
Q: After you were pardoned by the Chengelpet Chief Magistrate, did police interrogate you?
Q: The first 5 lakh cheque and the 20 lakhs cash given to you in relation to this murder, can you say on which dates they were given?
A: (After first saying no, Ravi subramaniam later said end of October.)
Q: The money was only distributed 33 days after this murder occurred???
Q: I say that you did not meet Sundaresa Iyer on October 6, 2004!
Q: That Sundaresa Iyer gave you Rs 20 lakhs is a blatant lie?
* * *
Police openly coach approver: Testimony scripted, say Defense
"'Ravi Subramaniam's testimony follows someone's scripted dialogue' - Jayendrar [Swamigal]'s Lawyer's Criticism"
Kancheepuram April 12: Jayendrar [Swami]'s lawyer K.S.Dinakaran said that RAvi Subramaniam testified according to teh script some people gave him.
The cross-examination conducted on Sankarraman murder case approver Ravi Subramaniam Tuesday:
K.S. Dinakaran: Is it correct what you say about Periyavar speaking improperly on the phone in the middle of the night to a woman called Lila?
Ravi Subramaniam: Yes
Question: I refute what you said about Natarajan's wife Prema, Chief Minister Revathy and Canteen Pathma all having relation with Periyavar.
Answer: Only what I say is true.
Final Warning Letter:
Q: I am of the opinion that what you said about Periyavar giving Sankarraman's final warning letter to Appu and giving orders to finish him is a lie?
Q: I refute that Periyavar met you and Appu at the Mutt and said finish the job, even if it costs 50lakhs.
Q: Do you know the SP?
A: I know [him].
Q: When you gave your first testimony during the first hearing in this court on the 7th, did you see SP Premkumar was there?
A: I did not see him.
(At this juncture, Koyambed Inspector Srinivasan, who was present, said something to Approver Ravi Subramaniam.
Upon this, Ravi Subramaniam said:) "Attorney Dinakaran came to my house to meet me and spoke with me."
Prosecutor Thiagarajan: This should be registered in court.
(Following this, Magistrate Uttamaraaj had Inspector Srinivasan removed. After which, he [Srinivasan] exited the court. )
The Defense objected strenuosly, saying that officers in the hearing should not say anything to the approver while he is in the witness stand.
At that time, SP Premkumar, who was present [in court], voiced his disagreement with the defense attorneys.
Aroused by this, Magistrate Uttamaraaj became angered. "Whatever it is, you must address it to me. Otherwise, I will take severe action," he condemned.
Q: I say it is because of spite to the Mutt and the Mataadipathis that these proceedings have been enacted.
Magistrate Uttamaraaj ordered that the day after next, at 2:30pm, on the coming 13th [April], all the accused must be present in court.
Monday, April 11, 2005
Prosecution gung-ho on bench warrants...
http://www.maalaimalar.com/asp/news/dis_news_article.asp?artid=51502 - Excerpts
"Ravi Subramaniam's Cross-Examination"
Kancheepuram, April 11 - Ravi Subramaniam, who turned approver in the Sankarraman murder case gave testimony in Kancheepuram court. At that time, he gave shocking reports about [both] the Sankaracharyas' involvement in Sankarraman's murder.
On top of it, he spoke in court of relations between Jayendrar [Swamigal] and certain women. Jayendrar [Swamigal]'s attorneys sought permission to cross-examine him. Magistrate Uttamaraaj gave permission. The Magistrate ordered that cross-examination would take place on the 11th (today), and ordered that all 24 accused should be present in court.
Accordingly, a police escort brought Ravi Subramaniam from Kanchi Sub-Jail to Magistrate Court for cross-examination today.
Appu, who is locked up in Cuddalore Jail; Raghu, Sundaresa Iyer who are housed in Chennai Jail, in all 19 people, 3 'fake criminals' -- a total of 22 people were presented in Kanchi court. However, Jayendrar [Swamigal], and Vijayendrar [Swamigal] did not appear in court today.
On behalf of them, Jayendrar [Swamigal]'s lawyer, Y.Thiagarajan filed a plea in court. In it, it was revealed that Jayendrar [Swami] and Vijayendrar [Swami] were involved in essential pujas and could not be in court today.
The Prosecution rose in opposition to this. "Jayendrar and Vijayendrar have not been present in court three times thus far. Therefore," they said, "a warrant should be issued to arrest them and produce them in court within 3 hours."
The Magistrate adjourned hearing of this [matter] to the day after next. Then, at 12:30pm, Ravi Subramaniam's cross-examination began. Jayendrar [Swamigal]'s lawyer Dinakaran did [his] cross-examination.
* * *
[Ed.: While the Tamil Nadu Prosecutor is all too eager to obtain bench warrants against the Sankaracharyas, (who merely exercised their due process rights), it bears reminding that there are 13 such warrants issued from the High Court PENDING against their very own Superintendent of Police, Mr. Premkumar.
That's exactly what those oft-quoted non-bailable arrest warrants against PK are all about. You see, when the Chennai High Court fined him for dragging out the cases against him through various unsavory tactics, PK found a new way of obstructing justice. He refused to show up in court -- 13 times, apparently. And all those bench warrants the courts issued against him are sitting on some office desk, gathering dust, because the grand machinery of JJ's police raaj is not willing to touch the lapel of PK's safari suit.
What? No rousing cries of 'the Law must take its course?']
Saturday, April 09, 2005
Greed, Superstition, and a Woman's Fury
"What were the Reasons for Entrapping in a Murder Case? Shocking information in Jayendrar [Swamigal]'s Supreme Court Petition"
[Caption under Sankaracharya's picture reads]:
"Even after I got bail in the Supreme Court, Chief Minister Jayalalita has let out a number of questionable reports about me."
New Delhi: Jayendrar [Swamigal] has filed a petition in Supreme Court listing point by point his estimations of what may have been the reasons for entrapping him in Kancheepuram Varadaraja Perumal Temple manager Sankarrraman's violent murder.
"If the cases against me are tried in Tamil Nadu courts, I will not get justice. As such, all the cases against me should be ordered to be taken up for trial in another state's courts," Jayendrar [Swami] has asked in a petition filed in the Supreme Court.
Jayendrar [Swamigal], who had not revealed any opinion about the reason for case after case being heaped upon him so far, has compiled and noted his estimations regarding this in his petition filed in the Supreme Court.
The Chief Secretary of Tamil Nadu Governement, the DGP, Kanchipuram Superintendent of Police Premkumar, Sankarraman case Chief Investigating Officer SP Shaktivel, and Ravi Subramaniam have been named as respondents in this case.
A summary of this petition follows: 'Even after I got bail in the Supreme Court, Chief Minister Jayalalita has let out a number of questionable reports about me.
- Jayalalita gave 5 lakhs solatium to Sankarraman's family. A day later, an identification parade was conducted in the matter of Sankarraman's violent murder case. In that, news was leaked that some of Sankarraman family members identified some persons.
- The Kanchi Mutt Charitable Trust acquired the Tamil Nadu Hospitals. Plans were launched with the intention of bringing that hospital up to University grade and with it, creating a medical college attached to the hospital. In the course of these plans, this Trust spent Rs. 70 crore in hospital construction work, buying medical diagnostic equipment, machinery as well as facilities needed for the medical college. A request was made to the Tamil Nadu government to obtain the 'No Objection' Certificate needed to initiate work on the medical college. There was no response whatsover received to this [request] from Government quarters. For this, a petition was filed in Chennai High Court on behalf of the Trust. The High Court that heard this petition ordered that the Kanchi Trust's plea should be reviewed and the 'No Objection' certificate granted within 2 weeks.
- After the Government established a team to oversee and give advice on the Kumbabhishekam work that takes place throughout all of Tamil Nadu, I had been appointed the head of that team.
God alone knows the reasons for HRCE [suddenly] changing this date.
- Crores of devotees have been praying before [Translator's note: or conducting rituals for] the Palanimalai Murugan statue for ages. Because of this, the thirumeni [literally: "sacred body"] has been eroding. Therefore, I made a decision as team leader to have a statue made out of panchaloka for the rituals to be conducted upon.
- Out of the 25 people arrested in the Sankarraman murder case, 14 have been detained in prison under the Goonda's Act. They have all been stamped as habitual criminals. With the sole intention of preventing them from coming out on bail, they have been detained under the Goonda's Act so that they cannot [even] request bail.
- In the name of investigation, the police have tortured those who write in favor of me. Cho Ramasami and Gurumurthy were harrassed in this way. The police did not even leave eminent cardiologist Doctor Bhaskar. His supposed ["]crime["], is that he made a request to the public to collect donations for my court expenses.
The reason for all these and for the cases heaped against me could well have been Jayalalita's anger against me.
Keeping all these reasons in mind, if the cases aginst me are tried in courts in Tamil Nadu, I will not get justice [Translator's note: literally "a just judgement"]. As such, orders should be given to transfer the cases against me to another state's court.
This is what Jayendrar [Swami] has revealed in his petition. A hearing on this petition is coming up in the Supreme Court next week.
Thursday, April 07, 2005
Medical College Issue Hits High Court
"Petition in High Court Asking to Issue Certificate to Medical College named after Jayendrar."
11. Chennai: A plea has been filed in High Court asking the court to order issueance of a no objection certificate to launch a new medical college named for Kanchi [Sankaracharya] Jayendrar [Swamigal]
The High Court issued a noticde to the Tamil Nadu Government ordering that they reply to this petition. This petition was filed in High Court on behalf of the University Registrar of Kanchi Kamakoti Peetam Charitable Trust-run Sri Chandrasekarendra Saraswati Viswa Maha Vidyalaya. This petition hearing came up before Justice KP Sivasubramaniam. Justice KP Sivasubramaniam sent a notice ordering the Health Ministry to respond within 2 weeks.
8. "How was Sankarraman's murder done? Approver Ravi Subramaniam's sensational testimony in court."
Kanchipuram: Jayendrar [Swamigal] gave 50 lakhs to kill Sankarraman. Ravi Subramaniam revealed this sensational information in court. The prosecution conducted its examination of Ravi Subramaniam, who turned approver in the Sankarraman murder case.
Ravi Subramaniam said: "A family friend of mine, Vishwanathan's elder sister Lila is very close to Jayendrar. In 1994, Lila took me once to Kanchipuram and introduced me to Periyavar. After that, Periyavar gave me contract work.
In 2004, on the 1st day of Mahamakam, Periyavar summoned me to come immediately to the Shastra College in Thanjavur where he was staying. I got there the night before Mahamakam. Next day, 5:30 I saw Periyavar. Periyavar gave me 1000 Rupees - 100 bundles and tolde me to get them to Appu [by] giving them to Kathiravan. I took that and came home. Kathiravan came to my flat and received these.
In 2004, on September 1, I and Appu reached Kanchipuram Hotel Jayabalavir. We told Kathiravan to come there. Then, the 3 of us went to meet Periyavar. At that time, Sundaresa Iyer was there. At that time, Periyavar gave Appu the 'final warning' letter. He said from now on he should not get letters from him. After giving Sankarraaman's final warning letter, he said thus. He said - to finish him off, if it costs 50 lakhs, no matter.
* * *
UPDATE: Dinamalar reports Ravi Subramaniam's cross-examination to begin April 11.
Tuesday, April 05, 2005
Sundaresa Iyer files Habeas Corpus plea in Supreme Court
"Sundaresa Iyer petitions Supreme Court"
New Delhi - Kanchi Mutt Manager Sundaresa Iyer, detained in jail under the Goonda's Act in the Sankarraman murder case, has filed a Habeas Corpus plea in the Supreme Court.
Sundaresa Iyer, arrested in the violent on murder of Sankarraman, has since been detained in jail under the Goonda's Act. He had filed a Habeas Corpus plea in High Court. This plea has been languishing in the High Court.
Sundaresa Iyer has filed a Habeas Corpus plea in the Supreme Court.
Details of that plea follow.
"The police Habeas Corpus plea I filed in High Court has been dragging out Habeas Corpus plea I filed in High Court without allowing a hearing on it.
Intentionally bringing up one motion after the other, they have been obstructing [any] hearing on this petition. At this month's end, the Court adjournment for Interim Holidays will begin. It does not appear that there is any chance of my case being heard before this. I have no other recourse but to appeal to the Supreme Court.
In order for someone to be booked under the Goonda's Act, that person has to have been recognized to be a habitual criminal. Only in those cirumstances will the Goonda's Act sustain. To have classified me as a habitual criminal is insupportable. I am going on 69 years. I have worked in Reserve Bank in a senior position to acclaim. I joined the Kanchi Matam and have been doing service to society.
Jayendrar having gotten bail in the Supreme Court, thinking that others will also get bail in the same way, that I, as one among these, was detained under the Goonda's Act is a misuse of the Goonda's Act. They have obstructed my release on bail.
The police is creating delays by throwing impediments to prevent my case coming up for hearing. The petition I filed on February 4th has not been heard for 2 months. My basic rights are being infringed upon. My High Court plea should be taken up for hearing. In the interim, I should be granted bail.
Else, the petition I filed in High Court should be ordered for immediate hearing and the judgment delivered."
This is what it says in Sundaresa Iyer's petition.
Senior lawyer Arun Jaitley plans to plea that this case be taken up immediately for hearing. It is revealed that Sundaresa Iyer's plea in High Court will be taken up the coming 16th [April]. If on this day also, police request a 2 week extension, the interim Holidays will arrive by that time.
The likelihood is that the hearing will only come up in June. This Habeas Corpus plea has been filed in Supreme Court to prevent this, with the intention of getting a decision by month's end.
* * *
Monday, April 04, 2005
Case cannot stand, Reign of Terror in TN: H.Raja
"In Kalavai: MLA H.Raja mmets Jayendrar [Swamigal]"
Kalavai, April 5: BJP State Secretary MLA H.Raja met and spoke with Jayendrar [Swami] who is staying in Kalavai Sankaramatam's own Brindavanam yesterday at 7 [pm] in the evening. He emerged at 9 pm after meeting with Jayendrar [Swamigal]. With him was South Chennai District Secretary T. [Translator's note: could be D?] Narayanan.
Afterwards, he said in an interview to journalists, "[After seeing] the chargesheet filed in the Sankararaman case, this case this case cannot for a minute be made to stand in court. Moreover, as far as the case against the Sankaramatam Periyavar is concerned, the Government is creating a state of tyrannical misrule in Tamil Nadu. The case against previous Human Affairs Central Minister, Muralimanohar Joshi is the epitome of this."
Previous MLA Peraasiriyar Theeran and Thada Periyasami, Vanniyar Sangh Head AK Natarajan, Puthukottai [Municipality?] Kabidas, Tamil Nadu Hindu Sanyasis Convener Sadasivananda also met and spoke to Jayendrar [Swami]
Thursday, March 31, 2005
No justice for Sankaracharya in Tamil Nadu ...
"Petition: Jayendrar to Supreme Court-'Case should not be conduted in Tamil Nadu'-Request to transfer to another State."
Caption under Sankarcharya's picture reads:
"So far, neither the Chief Minister nor the Tamil Nadu Government has given so much importance to any matter. From journalists to senior lawyers, they are investigating [everyone]"
New Delhi: "Only if the Sankarraman murder case, in which I have been accused, is tried in an outside state will I be rendered justice. Hence, [the court] should order this." This is the appeal in the petition Jayendrar [Swamigal] has filed to the Supreme Court. There is a plan to request the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court today to take up this petition for hearing soon.
Sankarraman was gruesomely murdered last September. [snip - details of case known well to this blog's readers - in summary - 25 people including the 2 Sankaracharyas were accused; Ravi Subramaniam turned approver; the chargesheet was filed on January 21st, etc..]
With this backdrop, Jayendrar [Swamigal] has filed a petition in the Supreme Court: 'If this case in which I am accused, takes place in a Tamil Nadu Court, I will not get [a fair trial or] justice. This case should be transferred for trial to another state. [The court] should order to transfer this trial to another state.
The details of the petition filed in Supreme Court on behalf of Jayendrar [Swamigal] follows. It says in the petition that when Jayendra [Swamigal] was arrested in this murder, before and after he came out on bail, Chief Minsiter Jayalalita mentioned there was unshakeable and 'strong, clinching' evidence in this case. Hence, Jayendrar Swamgial had to be arrested 'with a heavy heart'. Jayalalita has publicly stated a number of opinions about Jayendrar [Swamigal] in the legislature as well as in other venues. The Tamil Nadu Government and the Chief Minister have shown a unique interest in this case. This affects the independence of the judges. Hence, if this case were tried in Tamil Nadu Courts, doubts have arisen whether the accused will get justice.
Jayalalita has given 5 lakh Rupees to the Sankarraman family as solatium. Within a few days, an identification parade was conducted in teh Sankarraman murder case. At that time, the Sankrraman family has identified the accused.
In this case, out of the 25 accused, 14 have been booked under the Goonda's Act and are in prison. When Jayendrar [Swami] got bail in the Supreme Court, the Tamil Nadu Government, suspecting that other accused may also get bail, predetermined to prevent them from getting bail [and] being released. It was according to that [plan] only that they booked them under the Goonda's Act.
Kanchi Mutt Manager Sundaresa Iyer and Vijayendrar [Swami]'s brother Raghu were siad to have engaged in criminal activity habitually. To say this and detain them in jail for a year under the Goonda's Act is against propriety.
The chargesheet was filed on a Government holiday, Bakr-Id. Although it was a holiday, the Magistrate was brought in to the Court. Only after the chargesheet was kept in Varadaraja Perumal and special pujas performed was the chargesheet filed.
So far, neither the Tamil Nadu Government, nor the Chief Minister has given this great amount of importance in any other case. Even after knowing that copies of the chargesheet will be delayed, all the accused were intentionally made to come to court once every 14 days. This kind of police action has the sole purpose of harrassing the accused.
If anybody writes supporting Jayendrar [Swami] in this case, they have brought them in for questioning under the pretext of investigation. In this way only, Cho and Gurumurthy were interrogated. Police also interrogated Indian Express' Sonthalia.
They did not even leave out Jayendrar [Swami]'s lawyers. They filed a case as if Ravi Subramaniam were threatened. After the chargesheet was filed, they have sent a summons to Dr. Bhaaskar. And his sole crime? He advertised asking for donations to meet the legal expenses of Jayendrar [Swami]'s case -- [this] is called as [a] crime.
From this, it can be seen that Tamil Nadu Government and the Chief Minister are conducting this case in a predetermined manner. Under these conditions, if the case is tried in Tamil Nadu, neither Jayendrar [Swami] nor the other accused will get justice. Hence, orders should be given to transfer this case to another State for trial. In this case, in the Supreme Court, senior lawyers Nariman and Krishnakumar will appear for Jayendrar [Swami].
It is revealed that a request will be made to the Chief Justice to take this petition up immediately.
Chargesheet served: Approver to testify in Open Court Apr 5th
"Sankarraman Murder Case: Chargesheet copies served to Jayendrar [Swamigal] and Vijayendrar [Swamigal]"
Kanchipuram, March 31: Kanchipuram Varadaraja Perumal Temple manager was hacked to death inside the temple last year.
In this connection, police arrested 25 persons, including Kanchi Sankaracharyas Jayendrar Swamigal and Vijayendrar Swamgial, [alleged] famed 'dada' Appu, building contractor Ravi Subramaniam, etcetera.
The SIT conducted searches in the Sankaramatam and in the accuseds' houses to find the letters written by Sankarraman, evidences of transfer of money to hirelings and other documents. It was let out that Jayendrar [Swamigal] and Sankarraman had differences in some matter.
The police accused that at his [Jayendra Saraswati Swamigal's] instigation 40 lakh Rupees were given to hired gangs to kill Sankarraman. The vehicles used by the hired gang were also confisicated. All 25 accused were arrested and put in Chennai, Velore, and Cuddalore prisons. Since the supporting documents for the murder were filed in the court, the Magistrate refused to set them free. Following this, Jayendrar [Swamigal] went before the Supreme Court and was freed. Vijayendrar [Swamigal], Pazhani, Arumugam, and Senthil also got bail in court. Building contractor, Ravi Subramaniam turned approver in this case.
The SIT conducted the investigation at lightningh speed and prepared the chargesheet last January. The chargesheet was submitted to Kanchipuram First Judicial Magistrate Uttamaraj on January 21st. The chargesheet has a total of 1873 pages. The copying work went on day and night. Then, they were bound into a book.
The day before yesterday, the chargesheet [copies] were brought to Kanchipuram Court under heavy security. Then they were sealed and secured. The court had already ordered the 25 accused to come to the court on 31st [March] to get the copies.
In accordance with this, Jayendrar [Swamigal] and Vijayendrar [Swamigal] appeared in Kanchipuram court today. Pazhani, Arumugam [and] Senthil, who are out on bail came to court in the morning itself.
18 persons, including Vijayendrar [Swami]'s brother Raghu and Sankaramatam mangaer Sundaresa Iyer were brought from Chennai prison and were present in the court. Following this, Ravi Subramaniam who is in Kanchipuram Sub Jail was presented.
At 12:02 pm, after all 25 accused were presented, serving of the chargesheet began. Prosecutors Balasundaram & Thiagarajan asked Magistrate Uttamaraj to serve the chargesheet copies. Signatures were obtained from all 25 accused [acknowledging] receipt; About 30 minutes were required for this. Jayendrar [Swamigal] felt weak because of this, saying his leg hurt. Immediately, a chair was provided for him to sit.
The accused Anandakumar and KS Kumar said that they did not have lawyers and so could not receive the chargesheet. The Magistrate did not accept this and said your chargesheet will be entrusted to the Security Police. Another accused, Silverstar Stalin also refused to receive the chargesheet copy. "The chargesheet has been kept in Kamatchi Amman temple, prayed [over] and brought here. Hence, I am scared to receive it. I would have received it boldly if it was taken to Velankanni temple and prayed over." The Magistrate did not accept his request. Following this, his chargesheet was given to his lawyer. The chargesheet was first given to Jayendrar Swamigal at 12:43pm. He affixed his thumb impression for receipt.
After the chargesheets were served, the police submitted a request. They asked for permission from the court to get a statment from approver Ravi Subramaniam on [April] 5th or 6th.
In the meanwhile, Appu's lawyer got up and made a request. Appu can only speak in Tamil. He does not know to read or write in Tamil, so the copies of the chargesheet should be given in Telugu, his mother tongue. Prosecutor Thiagarajan opposed this. He said when he was previously in jail, the chargesheet was given in Tamil only. When he had received chargesheet copies in Tamil then, asking for copies in Telugu now is only an effort to divert the case.
Magistrate Uttamaraj said he will look into this. Then, Magistrate Uttamaraj said "All should be present in court on the 5th. On that day, in the presence of all, statement will be taken from approver Ravi Subramaniam."
Since the chargesheet copies have been served to all 25 accused in the Sankarraman murder case, the [trial] hearing will begin. The witnesses will be called and heard. For this to occur, this case will be transferred to Chengelpet Sessions Court. The Chengelpet Court will determine and announce the starting date for this [trial] hearing.
Also, it will be known then whether the hearing will take place in Chengelpet Sessions Court or whether it will be transferred to a fast track court in Kanchipuram.
It has also been considered whether the trial can take place in Poondamalli Court. The SIT is very intent on finishing the entire hearing by the month of June. As a first step towards that, according to criminal law procedures, efforts are being undertaken to get the statement from approver Ravi Subramaniam next week. After that, the case hearing will get heated up.
Wednesday, March 30, 2005
Editorial - Sundaresa Iyer vs. the State
Editorial: “Quis costodiet ipsos custodies?” (Who will watch the watchers?)
Apart from the odd article in the Tamil Press, we were unable to find any detailed coverage of erstwhile Kanchi Mutt manager Sundaresa Iyer’s Habeas Corpus hearing.
Yet, this case has significance for the entire Tamil public, if not the nation, as it touches on fundamental questions of governance and the limits of police power. Any judgments handed down in this case will, directly or indirectly, impact Tamilians’ lives, and the degree of power the Executive branch of the State Government has over them.
If this article from Tamil daily Dinakaran (translated here) is accurate, then the Tamil Nadu Government is staking the claim that anyone accused of participation in a gruesome murder can be preventively detained under the Goonda’s Act, and thence become ineligible for bail for upto a year.
The Prosecution’s argument appears to be that, since gruesome murders (especially those committed in daylight) disturb the public peace, the Goonda’s Act can be applied to anyone merely accused of such a crime.
It is a bit difficult to discern how exactly the public peace was disturbed in this case. The unfortunate victim was murdered way back in September of last year – more than 6 months ago! What public disturbance has occurred in Kanchipuram since then? Were there any riots back in October or November? As far as I know, there wasn’t even a public protest or demonstration related to this murder until AFTER November 11th, the date of the Sankaracharya’s arrest. (That is, if you except MK Stalin’s threat of a protest fast and some ‘Dravidian Kazhagam’-related demonstrations in front of the Kanchi Mutt).
Since the Sankaracharya’s arrest, there have been demonstrations in Velur, Chennai and all across Tamil Nadu. Most of them have occurred under the watchful eyes of intense police security, with hardly any violence, save a skirmish or two. In fact, the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu herself was so unimpressed by these events that she declared in the Tamil Nadu assembley on November 18th: “These steps (referring to the Sankaracharya’s arrest) have not led to any law and order problem in Tamil Nadu.” (The Hindu, Nov 18, 2004).
In any case, those public protests, immediately suppressed ruthlessly by police, arose in response to the Sankaracharya’s arrest, an action the Tamil Nadu Government took. What do these - bye and large peaceful - protests have to do with Sri Sundaresa Iyer?
The Government’s contention that Sri Sankarraman’s gruesome murder disturbed the public peace is not only untenable, but, even if granted, wholly irrelevant to Sundaresa Iyer’s petition.
Moreover, the rationale given by the Prosecutor for invoking the Goonda’s Act is itself arbitrary. Is anyone accused of murder to be detained preventively now? After all, what murder isn’t gruesome?
If the Prosecution’s argument is upheld, anyone in Tamil Nadu need only be accused of a murder in order to be thrown in prison by executive order for up to a year, with no opportunity for bail, and no due process of law. In Sundaresa Iyer’s case, no court has ever examined the evidence to say whether even a prima facie case exists against him. Yet, Sri Sundaresa Iyer is locked up in a cell, and cannot even get a bail hearing before a judge because the Goonda’s Act has been slapped on him.
Is society served by such a state of affairs? What would limit the Executive branch from curtailing the liberty of any individual, effectively suo moto? What would stop any dishonest cop from getting anyone he bears a grudge against - or who won’t pay him protection money - charged of such a crime, and thrown into prison as Sundaresa Iyer has? What would protect a sitting Government’s political opponent or even civilian critics of the Executive from the same treatment?
Who, as the Roman poet asked, will watch over the watchers? This broad an interpretation of the Goonda’s Preventive Detention Act is surely an invitation to tyranny. That an individual so accused could file a Habeas Corpus plea before the courts is simply insufficient remedy. Sundaresa Iyer has now spent 95 days in prison. It is simply unacceptable that any accused, presumed innocent until proven guilty, should be deprived of due process in this manner.
It is the Executive’s power that must be curtailed at the outset. Any law, most especially one that allows preventive detention, must be applied judiciously – with restraint. That has simply not been the case here.
Indeed, there is ample evidence that Jayalalita’s Government’s actions in this case have been completely arbitrary. For, by this Government’s own logic, the accused in the Dharmapuri bus burning incident would be leading candidates for detention under the Goonda’s Act. Now there was a gruesome murder that disturbed the public peace. Can we expect an order in this regard anytime soon, Mr. Prosecutor?
Meanwhile, we are appalled by the paltry coverage of this case in the media-at-large. When such grave public issues are involved, the press ought to at the very least show up. Instead, the English Language Media has largely absconded. The issues in this case surely deserve national attention and public debate. Where is The Indian Express or The Hindustan Times? Where, for that matter, is Chennai-based ‘The Hindu’? Here arise fundamental questions about the limits of police power – Where have all the secular humanists run?
George Washington once said: "Government is not reason, it is not eloquence, it is force; like fire, a troublesome servant and a fearful master. Never for a moment should it be left to irresponsible action."
Someone call the Fire Station… please!
Prosecution: Goonda's Act if it's a Gruesome Crime.
[Translation adapted from www.kanchi-sathya.org]
[Sri] Sundaresa Iyer, Appu - all 12 people should not be released from Goonda’s act: TN Government
Chennai, March 30: The Tamil Nadu Government has filed a counter petition in the Chennai High Court saying that 12 people including [Sri] Sundaresa Iyer and Appu should not be released from the Goonda's Preventive Act.
Sri Sundaresa Iyer and Appu are among the 12 people Tamil Nadu police have detained under the Goonda’s Preventive Act in the Shankararaman murder case. This order was prepared by the Kanchipuram District Collecter. All 12 people including Sri Sundaresa Iyer and Appu have filed a 'Habeas Corpus' petition in High Court to suspend this order, asking that Sundaresa Iyer and all 12 people be freed.
In his petition, Sri Sundaresa Iyer [says that] he has never been involved in any unlawful activity. It is wrong to imprison him under the Goonda's Preventive Act. Only when a person causes considerable disturbance to the public can the Goonda’s Act be invoked . The Government has imprisoned [him] under the Goonda's Preventive [Detention] Act solely for an ulterior motive, with vindictive intent. As such, he should be released from this detention.
This case came up for hearing in front of High court Judges Karpagavinayagam and C. Nagappan yesterday. At that time, Senior Prosecutor K. Duraisami, appearing on behalf of the Government, filed a counter petition. In this counter petition, the Prosecution says:
"Kanchipuram's Varadharaja Perumal temple manager Shankararaman was hacked to death. This murder occurred in broad daylight in a gruesome manner. Because of this alone, the public peace has been disturbed. It is only because of this that the 12 people including Sundaresa Iyer have been detailed under Goonda’s Preventive Act. Therefore, the order to detain them in prison should not be suspended and the petition should be dismissed. Sundaresa Iyer's detention under the Goonda's Preventive [Detention] Act is sustainable."
Thus reads the Prosecution's counter-petition.
When this case came up for hearing yesterday, Sri Sundaresa Iyer and other people were represented by senior advocates P. Kumar, I. Subramaniam, as well as Advocate Chandrasekar. Many others were present, including Bharathiya Janata Party lawyers Ramu Manohar and Aadi Kumaraguru. Yesterday, advocates I. Subramaniam and P. Kumar argued [for the petitioners].
The Government was represented by senior advocate K.T. Tulsi from Delhi. Advocate I. Subramaniam continues his arguments today [Wednesday, March 30th]. In this case, advocates Kandasamy, Jayprakash Narayanan and E. Raja appeared for the Prosecution.
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UPDATE: Dinamalar reports that this hearing was adjourned by the Division Bench to April 16th.