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Sankararaman murder case: forgotten scandal

March 08 2010 10:30 AM IST

Ravi Subramaniam has turned an approver in the Sankararaman murder case, in which Kanchi Shankaracharya Jayendra Saraswati is the main accused.
Sankararaman Anantakrishnasharma worked with the Kanchi Kamakoti Peetham -- arguably, South India's most respected Hindu Math -- for 60 years. He was among the four

men who walked with the late Kanchi Shankaracharya Sri Chandrasekharendra Saraswati to Kashi from Kanchipuram. Anantakrishnasharma served Sri Chandrasekharendra Saraswati all his life.
The Shankaracharya provided Anantakrishnasharma a one room tenement in the temple town. This Anantakrishnasharma built into a three room house, of which one is a prayer room. When Anantakrishnasharma died, his only child Sankararaman took his place to serve the Kanchi Shankaracharya.
But Sankararaman did not apparently get along with Sri Jayendra Saraswati, the junior Shankarcharya, especially after the seer abruptly left the Peetham in August 1987, a decision that has never been adequately explained. Their relationship worsened after Sri Chandrasekharendra Saraswati died. Sankararaman stopped frequenting the Math as he used to.
He got a job at the Devarajasamy temple. His diligence paid off. For the last seven years he served as the temple's manager. He improved the temple's finances by charging an entrance fee at peak hours, enabling him to pay the shrine's staff on the first of every month. Earlier, the staff got their salary irregularly. The remunerative process became regular, thanks to Sankararaman's foresight.

The junior pontiff was arrested in connection with the murder case on January 10, the day Supreme Court granted bail to Jayendra in the case.
The Madras high court had granted bail to Jayendra in the assault case on January three.

The Madras High Court permitted the Kanchi Mutt to operate its bank accounts frozen by Tamil Nadu police in connection with Sankararaman murder case.
Justice K P Sivasubramanian issued the ruling while allowing a writ petition filed by a manager of the mutt, S Mahadevan, to restrain the state government and police from interfering with the mutt's right to manage and administer its affairs, including its bank accounts.
"Religious organisations cannot be paralysed or closed down virtually by freezing their accounts only for the reason that the head of the organisation and a few office-bearers are alleged to be involved in some offences," the judge held.
Referring to the freezing of 183 accounts of the mutt under section 102 of the criminal procedure code, the judge said Parliament had restricted the power under the section to 'specific and narrow limits'.
He said deposits could be brought under the section provided the deposits represented either stolen money or was connected with the commission of any offence.
"In short, there must be a nexus to the crime alleged and the money to be seized", the judge said.
He directed the mutt to submit a statement of all its bank accounts to the special investigation team probing the murder case, once a month, till completion of the trial.
The two pontiffs have been charged under Section 302 (murder) of the Indian Penal Code and, if convicted, could attract sentences ranging from three years' rigorous imprisonment to capital punishment.

Asked whether the prosecution case would stand in the court, Premkumar said 40 to 50 witnesses have already given
statements before the magistrate.

Asked whether the Shankaracharya could go to the Sankara Mutt in Kanchipuram now that the charge sheet has been filed, Premkumar said: "I cannot say anything on that now."

Police sources said the charge sheet contained a set of evidences which had not been furnished before the Supreme
Court in connection with the seer's bail plea.

Before filing the charge sheet, the police placed it at the Varadarajaperumal temple, where Sankararaman was murdered.

Apart from the Shankaracharya and his deputy, 23 others have been charged in the case, including Kanchi mutt manager Sundaresa Iyer and Vijayendra Saraswati's brother, Raghu.

The charge sheet running into 1,873 pages was filed by Superintendent of Police Premkumar, who heads the special investigating team probing the murder.

While the senior Shankaracharya is on bail after two months in jail, the junior seer is in judicial custody.

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