The Karnataka government has appointed a special public prosecutor (SPP) to conduct a speedy trial into the sensational murder of Fr K J Thomas, rector of the Vatican-linked St Peter’s Pontifical Seminary, on April 1, 2013.
The government has appointed a retired director of the state prosecution wing, Sadashiva Murthy, as the SPP for the prosecution of the case in which two Catholic priests and a third aspiring priest have been arrested by the Bangalore police. The appointment of the SPP comes even before the police has filed its chargesheet in a case where the lack of strong evidence resulted in the police delaying arrests for nearly a year.
The city police sent a proposal for the appointment of the SPP for the case after a section of the Catholic community in Karnataka questioned the arrests in connection with the case. The police have claimed that an internal rivalry within the church was the motive behind the murder.
A section of Kannada priests in the Catholic Church in the state have however labeled the arrests as being motivated and intended to quell dissent within a section of the church over language-related issues.
The Kannada priests association in the church have alleged that the city police have fixed the arrests at the behest of church authorities. They have demanded a CBI probe into the case. The government’s move to conduct a speedy trial of the murder case is seen as an effort to counter protests over the case.
SPP Sadashiva Murthy has a good record of winning cases as a public prosecutor. He is currently the SPP for many cases investigated by the CID as well as the sensational murder of RTI activist Lingaraju by contract killers in South Bangalore two years ago.
Murthy has in the past been the director of Prosecution and Government Litigations, the Joint Director of Prosecution (Administration), a Principal Public Prosecutor for the Government of Karnataka and a legal assistant to the Karnataka Lokayukta.
The Bangalore police has not yet filed its chargesheet in the murder case. “We are still investigating the case. Our probe has revealed that some others were also involved. We will nab them after we have sufficient evidence against them,” a senior police officer said. “A section of society has staged protests against the arrest of Fr Illyas Daniel, Fr William Patrick and Peter – who are in judicial custody. The case is very sensitive. We want to carry out a speedy trial and disposal in this context and this has led to the early appointment of the SPP for the case,” the senior police officer said.