Saraswati case: HC restrains court from giving verdict

Cuttack: The High Court here on Thursday restrained a lower court, hearing Swami Laxmanananda Saraswati murder case, from passing judgement without its permission.

A fast track court in Kandhamal district is currently holding trial of the brutal murder of the 80-year-old Hindu seer and four of his disciples during Janmashtami celebrations at his Jaleshpeta Ashram on August 23, 2008.

Investigating into the case, the state crime branch police in the meantime has submitted two charge sheets in the court naming 14 persons, of which only nine have been arrested so far.

Not satisfied with the crime branch investigation, the deceased seer`s disciple Brahmachari Madhav Chaitanya had filed a writ in the HC seeking an impartial enquiry by an independent agency (preferably by the CBI) into the murder.

The petitioner also questioned why the police are not probing into the motive and conspiracy angle of the killing.

Discontented with the nature and progress of investigation, the HC had asked the prosecution to expand its purview of probe and file a fresh affidavit in the court.

But the single-judge bench of Justice M M Das was again not satisfied with the affidavit of the crime branch that was filed on the day as the petitioner-advocate M N Krishnamani brought to the notice of the court that the prosecution was completely silent over the role of a local church which had passed a resolution in 2007 mentioning that "the Swamiji would be killed".

A senior lawyer of the Supreme Court, Krishnamani also questioned the fairness of the investigation saying that the police had arrested two persons just two days after the murder of the Swamiji and recovered from them two black masks and blood-stained daggers.

"But these arrested persons were not named in the charge sheets and they were subsequently released," Krishnamani told the court.

Expressing surprise over the manner in which the case was being investigated, the HC allowed the petitioner to examine investigating police officer Santosh Patnaik, a DSP-rank officer of the crime branch during the trial in the lower court.

The petitioner was also asked to submit a copy of the trial court deposition of the officer in the HC.