THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Outlandish it might sound, but for the CBI counsel appearing in the sensational Sister Abhaya murder case, the Bible seems to be the immediate panache for the ills they are facing.Perturbed by the witnesses turning hostile one after another, the prosecution will take a Bible to the court room from Thursday when the CBI Special Court resumes witness examination.
The prosecution will seek the court’s permission to introduce Bible in the court, and if allowed, will dare the witnesses to take oath by it before commencing the procedures, sources told Express. The prosecution has listed 177 witnesses in the case that has reached the trial phase after 27 years’ wait.
Two witnesses turned hostile in the first two days, the second being Sanju Mathew, who had earlier given statement that he saw the scooter of one of the accused clergy parked near the convent where Sr Abhaya stayed. With several witnesses lined up for examination in the coming days, the prosecution fears many of them might take a U-turn vis-a-vis their statements. Introducing the Bible could dissuade them from doing so.
The old practice of taking oath by scriptures has been largely done away with in the country and the accepted norm is to swear by a universal God without mentioning the religious affiliation. However, the law does not bar the prosecution from asking the witnesses to take oath by the scriptures.
Law does not object to use of scriptures in court
“MOST of the witnesses in the Abhaya case are from Christian community. Many of them are clergy members and nuns. It’ll be interesting to see what their reaction would be if they’re asked to take oath by the Bible. Will they go by the general oath or take it by the book?” wondered a legal source.
Former Kerala High Court judge P S Gopinathan said the law does not object the use of scriptures for taking oaths. However, it’s a rare practice, he added. “The judiciary sticks to secular stand. However, if the prosecution feels it can use religious texts to prove its charges, nothing bars it legally. Maybe these’re the new innovations, but these new innovations can later become accepted practice,” he said.
The CBI case pertains to the mysterious death of a nun in a Christian convent 27 years ago. CBI chargesheet says she was murdered after she accidently came to see two priests and a nun in a compromising position in the convent kitchen.