Kerala HC dismisses plea of two accused in Sister Abhaya murder case

Kerala HC dismisses plea of two accused in Sister Abhaya murder case
Highlights

The Kerala High Court 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.

Kochi: The Kerala High Court 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 Dr 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. 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.

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