Rector murder: state moves SC against quashing of criminal case

Rector murder: state moves SC against quashing of criminal case

The Karnataka government has approached the Supreme Court to challenge the quashing of a criminal case against five accu­sed, belonging to a Kannada Christian organisation, in the 2013 sensational murder of Fr K J Thomas, the then rector of St Peter’s Pontifical Seminary in Malles­waram in Bengaluru.

In a petition, the state government urged the top court to stay the Karnataka High Court's order of August 30, 2016 that had set aside the criminal proceedings against the accused, including a woman. The government’s move comes in support of the Church, which had already filed a petition in this regard.

It was alleged that the Fr Thomas was killed on April 1, 2013, following a rivalry with Kannada Christian activists, who wanted primacy for them in the Catholic churches in Karnataka. The non-Kannada Christian members of the congregations, mainly Malayalam, Tamil and Konkani speaking Christians projected this theory of the murder having been master-minded by the Kannada Christian activists. The apex court had on March 31, 2017, issued notice to the Karnataka government and the accused on a special leave petition filed by the Church. The Karnataka government's petition is to come up for consideration on April 17.

In its separate plea, the state government questioned the high court's order saying letting off the five accused would prejudice the case against other five accused, named in the main charge sheet, and pending consideration before the trial court. “It has resulted in miscarriage of justice and it was not in accordance with the law,” it claimed.

“There are sufficient number of statements of witnesses, documentary, technical and scientific evidence, including call detail records, showing complicity of the accused in the conspiracy,” it said.

Contesting the high court finding that there was a delay of over two years in filing the charge sheet against five accused, the state government said it was in view of due diligence exercised by the police. The second charge sheet was filed only after taking experts’ view, recording statements of witnesses, of whom some were abroad, and taking permission for further investigation by the trial court, it said.

“The phone call analysis report established that the accused were in frequent touch with each other before and after the incident, the statements of witnesses also showed that they met each other and hence were aware of the commission of the offence,” it claimed.

The state government contended the high court was wrong in not considering statements of Balraj, Fr John Abraham, Jon Bosco and Dolphy D’Cunha, disclosing complicity of the accused.

The high court had set aside the proceedings against the accused, saying the case against the main accused itself was on the basis of circumstantial evidence and, thus the case against the other accused stood even more diluted.

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