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Justice still awaits after the exoneration of Kanchi Seers
Tuesday December 3, 2013 2:49 PM, Syed Ali Mujtaba,

The exoneration of the Kanchi Sankarachryas in the Shankeraman murder case has ignited a fresh debate on the way justice is being delivered in India.

The debate does not question the Kanchi seers exoneration from the crime, but raises fingers on the record number of witnesses that turned hostile during the trial of this case, leaving the prosecution with little evidence to try the guilty.

It's being alleged that all the witnesses were bought over a period of time by the defendant who have huge financial clout. In this case the witnesses turning hostile in large number is really a matter of concern. Whether there is any truth in such allegation needs to be investigated. However, the fact remains that in many such cases convictions could not take place, due to lack of evidence.

The long duration of such trials provides enough time to the defendant to use its influences over the witness and they lure them with money and other incentives to turn them around from their original stand. One such example is the Bilkisbano case of post Godhra riot cases, where money and other incentives were doled out and after that the witnesses changed her stand .

Such travesty of justice is blatantly going on in our country and there is no mechanism in place to check such injustices. This is a matter of concern and such loopholes needs to be plugged in for disbursal of fair justice.

Coming back to Kanchi Seers, it has been a journey of sorts in the Shankeraman murder case. They were arrested first and now being exonerated. The Seers at the time of arrest, were reduced to the level of criminals.

As the case fanged up, their image sullied further. The saintly figure's image was battered and bruised as all kinds of allegations were hurled on them. One purported tape was aired on the local TV alleging the senior seer had physically misbehaved with a woman. The woman in question actually came on TV to make allegations against the pontiff. The media trail began and the noble man was reduced to being a rapist.

Words and arrow once shot never returns. Now the when Seers are exonerated, who will gun against those who formed a demolition squad and went on the character assassination spree. Will those who had hurled garbage of abuses, get away under the licence of freedom expression or they stand guilty of such crime.

Again there is no mechanism to in place to check such demolition squad who run amok each time such case breaks. The question remains how to to reign in such forces who think can get away doing such activities. Perhaps the only way is to make them accountable if found guilty of indulging in any such misconstrued allegation campaign.

Coming back to Shankeraman murder case, the fact remains a murder has taken place in the premises of the famous Lord Varadharaja Swamy Temple at Kancheepurama on September 3, 2004 in Tamil Nadu.

Who has murdered this temple accountant remains a mystery? Exoneration of the Kanchi seers, does not solves the murder mystery, rather it leaves the case in a limbo.

The family members of Sankeraman are too poor to defend the case. When this case broke out, the then AIADMK government took huge interest in this case. A police officer, C. Premkumar was appointed to investigate the case. He came into limelight the way he went about investigating the case.

He was taking huge interest, obviously at the behest of the then ruling regime. He was then a hero to some and villain to others at the same time.

After the change of regime, the new DMK regime placed Premkumar under suspension. Some criminal charges were slapped on him and Court ordered him to undergo imprisonment. The police officer later died a natural death during the course of the trial.

Such kind of favoritism and witch hunting with officers is common in our country. This police officer was just a cog in the wheel of the state apparatus. He was instructed by the then ruling government to follow a certain line of action in his investigation. He had no other option then to carry out the orders. The change of government had different stand on this case. Since Premkumar was closer to the previous regime, he was penalized for investigating the case.

Such instances are in dime and dozens in our country. The political bosses remain supreme, the officers who are favored by one regime are often haunted by other. The officers are put in a very tight spot to dispense with their duties. If the officer says no, he is sure to suspended. If he goes ahead, he is left with no protection if change of the regime takes place.This phenomena is going on in almost every state of India and there is no mechanism to set right such anomalies.

The Shankeraman murder case was one of the very high profile cases in India. The case that hogged the lime light, for more than four weeks in the national media concentrated more on the Kanchi pontiffs rather than on the murder as such.

The focus of this case has been more to prove the guilt or innocence of the Kanchi seers. What is seen in this case is total apathy towards solving the murder mystery. There was an overtime involvement to nail or exonerate the high profile accused in this case. As a result, basic point of reference was lost. The case traveled in some other direction without giving any relief to the aggrieved party. This indeed a queer case in Indian judicial history.

The fact that a murder has taken place and someone is a murderer. The questions that naturally arises who is the actual murderer and what was the motive of this crime. These answers to these questions are equally important as the exoneration of the Kanchi seers involvement in this crime.

The exoneration does not bring any cheers to the family members of Shankeraman who are still waiting for justice. It's a case of murder most foul. Who and why are the key questions in this case. When this murder mystery will be solved is eagerly being watched.

Regardless of the facts, the Shankeraman murder case is an ideal pot boiler for Indian film makers. Will Bollywood or Kollywood lap this plot and make a thriller out of it, is something that remains to be seen…

Author is a journalist based in Chennai. He can be contacted at

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