Sister Abhaya murder case: Kerala HC dismisses discharge pleas of accused

PTI Kochi | Updated on April 09, 2019 Published on April 09, 2019

Sister Abhaya   -  THE HINDU

Abhaya’s body was found in the well of St Pius Convent in Kottayam on March 27, 1992

The Kerala High Court on Tuesday dismissed revision petitions filed by two accused -- a priest and nun -- seeking their discharge in the more than two-decade-old Sister Abhaya murder case.

Dismissing the petitions of Father Thomas Kottoor, and Sister Sephy, the first and third accused respectively, Justice Sunil Thomas directed them to stand trial in the case.

Last year, a special CBI court in Thiruvananthapuram had rejected the discharge petitions filed by the two accused.

The CBI court had observed that there was sufficient ground for presuming that the two had committed offences punishable under Indian Penal Code sections 302 (murder) and 201 (destroying evidences) read with section 34 (Acts done by several persons in furtherance of common intention).

The high court, however, upheld the CBI Court order discharging second accused in the case Father Jose Poothrikkayil.

Discharging Poothrikkayil, the CBI court had held that the prosecution had failed to bring out sufficient material to proceed against him.

Challenging the CBI Court decision discharging Poothrikkayil in the case, a plea was filed in the High Court.

The court, however, rejected it.

The high court also discharged fourth accused and a former crime branch SP, K T Michael in the case.

The court said that he can be made an accused during the trial of the case, if necessary.

Michael, accused of allegedly destroying evidence in the case, was added in the list of accused by the CBI court last year.

Michael, as the in-charge of the crime branch probe into the case, had closed it summing up that sister Abhaya had committed suicide.

Abhaya’s body was found in the well of the St Pius Convent in Kottayam on March 27, 1992. She was an inmate of the convent.

Initially, the case was investigated by the local police and state crime branch which concluded that Abhaya had committed suicide.

However, the case was taken over by CBI on March 29, 1993 following a legal battle by human rights activist Jomon Puthenpurackal.

The central probe agency in 2008 arrested Kottoor, Poothrikkayil and Sephy on the charge of murder.

Alleged illicit relationship

According to the prosecution, Kottoor and Poothrikkayil were allegedly having an illicit relationship with Sephy, also an inmate of the convent.

On the night of March 27, 1992, Abhaya allegedly saw Kottoor and Sephy in a compromising position, following which the three accused hacked her with an axe and threw her into the well, it had said in its charge sheet.

The accused were arrested in 2008 and released on bail by the Kerala High Court a year later.

Published on April 09, 2019

A letter from the Editor

Dear Readers,

The coronavirus crisis has changed the world completely in the last few months. All of us have been locked into our homes, economic activity has come to a near standstill. Everyone has been impacted.

Including your favourite business and financial newspaper. Our printing and distribution chains have been severely disrupted across the country, leaving readers without access to newspapers. Newspaper delivery agents have also been unable to service their customers because of multiple restrictions.

In these difficult times, we, at BusinessLine have been working continuously every day so that you are informed about all the developments – whether on the pandemic, on policy responses, or the impact on the world of business and finance. Our team has been working round the clock to keep track of developments so that you – the reader – gets accurate information and actionable insights so that you can protect your jobs, businesses, finances and investments.

We are trying our best to ensure the newspaper reaches your hands every day. We have also ensured that even if your paper is not delivered, you can access BusinessLine in the e-paper format – just as it appears in print. Our website and apps too, are updated every minute, so that you can access the information you want anywhere, anytime.

But all this comes at a heavy cost. As you are aware, the lockdowns have wiped out almost all our entire revenue stream. Sustaining our quality journalism has become extremely challenging. That we have managed so far is thanks to your support. I thank all our subscribers – print and digital – for your support.

I appeal to all or readers to help us navigate these challenging times and help sustain one of the truly independent and credible voices in the world of Indian journalism. Doing so is easy. You can help us enormously simply by subscribing to our digital or e-paper editions. We offer several affordable subscription plans for our website, which includes Portfolio, our investment advisory section that offers rich investment advice from our highly qualified, in-house Research Bureau, the only such team in the Indian newspaper industry.

A little help from you can make a huge difference to the cause of quality journalism!

Support Quality Journalism
This article is closed for comments.
Please Email the Editor
You have read 1 out of 3 free articles for this week. For full access, please subscribe and get unlimited access to all sections.