Indian Catholic News

Former judges see judicial failure in Kandhamal jailing

Continued imprisonment of Kandhamal’s innocents ‘failure of the judicial system’, Justice Cyriac Joseph.


Retired Supreme Court Justice Cyriac Joseph has flayed the delay in hearing the appeal of seven Christians of Kandhamal convicted to life imprisonment for the murder of Swami Laxmanananda Saraswati that triggered the bloodshed and mayhem in Kandhamal district of Odisha in 2008.

“This (delay) is a failure of the judicial system. In the judicial process, appeal could be delayed for many reasons. But in this case there are no (technical) reasons to keep it pending. It seems to be deliberately delayed, perhaps so that it is brought before a suitable judge,” remarked Justice Joseph.

Justice Joseph was speaking June 4 in Kochi while releasing ‘Niraparadhikal Thadavarayil’ (Innocents Imprisoned), a compressed Malayalam translation of journalist Anto Akkara’s investigative book ‘Who Killed Swami Laxmanananda?’.

“The author has brought out the shocking fact that even a mentally challenged illiterate has been languishing in jail. The evidences brought out in the book exposes the travesty of justice in Kandhamal,” added Justice Joseph.

The book has “a chapter on the failure of the NHRC (National Human Rights Commission) to ensure the justice to the Kandhamal victims and mentions even by name former chief justices,” noted Justice Joseph, who was a member and acting chairman of the (NHRC) after this retirement from the Supreme Court.

The book “packed with shocking evidences collected adventurously is a milestone in investigative journalism in India,” said Justice Joseph pointing out that mainstream media has ignored Kandhamal “due to pressure, enticement or fear of harassment”.

Justice P K Shamsuddin, former judge of Kerala High Court, told the gathering that “Kandhamal is the work of what we call fascist – Hindutva – forces.”

Justice Shamsuddin elaborated on how a fake resolution, allegedly to kill the Swami on Janmashtami night by the Catholic parish of Beticola, was presented in the trial court as crucial evidence to ensure conviction of the innocent Christians.

After the conviction, Justice Shamsuddin pointed out, “the same officer tells the Inquiry Commission (of Justice A S Naidu) that the resolution is forged. Still the appeal of the innocents is being postponed. This is shocking.”

Akkara, the author of the book launched an online signature campaign that generates emails to even the chief justice of India demanding speeding up the hearing of the innocents appeal.

Rights activist C. R. Neelakantan said Kandhamal is “not a religious issue. Even the judiciary and NHRC failed to stop the travesty of justice.” “Even the fourth estate, the media, failed to highlight the reality,” Neelakantan said.

“Kandhamal exposes the crookedness of Hindu nationalists and the ugly face of Indian democracy,” lamented journalist author Akkara while making a multi-media presentation of the crucial evidences.

The murder of Swami Laxmanananda triggered a riot targeting Christians that lasted for seven weeks. The unabated violence killed nearly 100 Christians and resulted in the plundering of some 300 churches and 6,000 houses rendering 56,000 homeless.


Top Stories