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Questioning Of Nuns Should Be At Convent Itself: High Court
KOCHI, Kerala(SAR NEWS) --A division bench of the Kerala High Court December 18 ruled that “nuns would not be taken outside their places of residence for interrogation” (in the Sister Abhaya murder case).

The bench comprising Justice K. Radhakrishnan Nair and Justice M.C. Hari Rani recorded the undertaking of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) that the nuns under the Saint Joseph’s Congregation in Kottayam would not be taken to “places outside their places of residence for interrogation in connection with the Sister Abhaya case”.

The congregation runs the Pius X Convent Hostel, Kottayam, where the body of Sister Abhaya was found in March 1992.

The court was disposing of a writ petition filed by 18 nuns and a resident of the Saint Joseph’s Generalate, Sacred Heart Mount, Kottayam, including Mother Annie John, the Superior General of the Saint Joseph’s Congregation, alleging that the CBI officers were harassing them under the guise of investigating Sister Abhaya case.

According to the petition, the congregation had made arrangements for questioning its members by the CBI at the Generalate.

However, the investigation officer insisted on questioning them only in the guest house of a public sector undertaking. They were questioned from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Besides, the police constables accompanied them and kept surveillance over their activities inside the convent.

The CBI had violated section 160(1) of the Criminal Procedure Code as it was mandatory for the police officers to question women and male persons under the age of 15 at their places of residence, the petition alleged.

The CBI, however, dismissed the allegation as baseless. The Superior General had informed the CBI that the nuns might be questioned at a place outside the convent to avoid unnecessary and adverse publicity, it said.

Disposing of the petition, the bench observed that in its jurisdiction, it could not take evidence and decide what actually happened. Normally, when the witnesses were questioned, they would be inconvenienced. If it had crossed the limits and infringed on any of their rights, they could work out the ordinary remedies before ordinary courts. The courts could then take evidence and decide on their pleas.

Meanwhile, Justice R. Basant December 18 adjourned to January 1, 2009, the hearing of another writ petition filed by Sister Abhaya’s father seeking a directive to the Kerala Catholic Bishops’ Council, the Arch eparchy of Kottayam, Knanaya Bishops’ Council, and the Jagratha Samithi of the Kottayam Diocese to dissuade from attacking the CBI and making comments on the investigation in the case.


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