The Kerala High Court on Monday pulled up the Central Bureau of Investigation for not complying with legal formalities while filing remand report of the two priests and a nun arrested in the 16-year-old Sister Abhaya murder case saying 'the rights of the accused should be protected'.
"On going through the order of the Chief Judicial Magistrate it appears that the CBI did not produce the extract of case diaries along with remand report," Justice R Basant said when a petition by Father Jose Puthrukayil, one of the accused in the case, seeking to quash the order of 14-day CBI custody came up before him.
Puthrukayil was arrested along with Father Thomas Kottur and Sister Sephi on Wednesday in connection with the death of sister Abhaya, a nun of the St Pius convent on March 27, 1992, under mysterious circumstances. These were the first arrests in the case.
The court said the rights of the accused should be protected and observed that the effective investigation in the case was prompted by judiciary.
"CBI has no license to conduct investigation as they please," the court held.
Justice Basant said the investigating agency should have 'applied its mind' before submitting its remand report.
In its objection, the CBI stated that the scientific investigations so far reveal that all the three accused are involved in Abhaya's murder.
Oral evidence corroborates circumstantial evidence. There is sufficient evidence scientifically and orally to connect the accused to the crime, the agency said and justified the need for CBI custody of the accused.
The court directed CBI to give their explanation regarding the queries raised by the court on non-compliance of legal provisions in submitting the remand report.
The other two accused also filed petitions seeking to quash the magistrate's order granting CBI custody for 14 days. The case has been posted to Nov 26.
Initially, the local police and the state Crime Branch, which investigated the case, concluded that the nun had committed suicide, but the case was handed over to the CBI by the High Court on a petition by Abhaya's father.
The CBI, which took over the case on March 29, 2003, had earlier filed three closure reports, saying though it was a case of murder, the suspects could not be found.
The high court refused to accept the report and asked the probe agency to further investigate.