Finally the Shankaracharya of Kanchi, has been declared not guilty of murder and has been acquitted by a court in Pondicherry. Sri Jayendra Saraswathi aged 78 years, regarded as one of the most influential Hindu heads of the country, has been finally acquitted after undergoing trial since 2004.
Murder in 2004
The prominent Kanchi seer was accused of conspiring and commissioning the murder of the temple manager Sankararaman in Kanchi. The manager was found dead succumbing to wounds with sharp edged weapons in his office room in Kanchipuram during September 2004. Allegedly Sankararaman had turned hostile against the head pontiff Sri Jayendra Saraswathi and his junior appointee Sri Vijayendra Saraswathi. In a series of complaints against them, Sankararaman had allegedly pointed out that both the seers were involved in corruption, misappropriation of Mutt funds and declared them immoral.
The Arrest on Diwali day
Following the death of Sankararaman under mysterious circumstances, the head pontiff Sri Jayendra Saraswathi was arrested in November 2004. The arrest happened during a Diwali day, which came as a shock to millions of Hindu supporters of the pontiff and the Kanchi Mutt across the nation. Jayalalitha was the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu during the period.
Along with the head pontiff, a total of 24 persons were accused of the murder in this case. A compliant was filed in the Vishnukanchi station which made the Police to carry out an investigation and a case was registered under section 302 and 34 of the IPC. Following the arrest, Sri Jayendra Saraswathi was granted bail in January 2005. The trial went on for nine long years, with 189 witnesses being examined. In October 2005, the seer had requested the Supreme Court to move the case to Pondicherry, to get a fair trial, which was granted by the Honourable Supreme Court of India.
Today, the Pondicherry Principal District and Sessions court pronounced the verdict in favour of the seers. The court gave a clean chit to both the seers acquitting them of the charges levied against them. Justice C S Murugan commented that out of the 187 witnesses in this case, 83 turned hostile. The witnesses did not support the prosecution case. He also noted that Sankararaman’s own daughter had failed to identify the accused with the murder charge.