Pronouncing the verdict in a packed-all amidst tight security, Principal District and Sessions Judge C S Murugan declared that all the 23 accused out of 24 stood acquitted of the charges against them as “there is no incriminating evidence against the accused”.
One of the accused Kathiravan was murdered in March this year in Chennai. While Sankararaman’s son Anand said the judgement was “shocking and unbelievable” and wanted to know who the killers were.
The judge referred to “undue interest and active participation” by the then Superintendent of Police of Kancheepuram, Prem Kumar in the probe, which also found mention in the Supreme Court order while granting bail to Jayendra Saraswathi. Judge Murugan observed that the police officer’s action was much beyond what was required under law during the investigation.
Due to intervention of Prem Kumar in the investigation, a fair and proper probe was not done by the Chief Investigation Officer (CIO), the order stated. The CIO failed to do independent investigation and did not place all the materials collected by some of the investigating officers other than those arrested by them, the judge said.
In a virtual censure of the action of the police officials during the course of investigation, the court observed that some witnesses were threatened to consent for recording statements and some of the accused were kept in illegal custody.
All the accused were present when the verdict was pronounced. The sensational case that hogged national and international limelight was transferred to neighboring Puducherry in 2005 by the Supreme Court on a petition filed by Jayendra Saraswathi.