Chennai, Nov. 30 (NNN): The Madras High Court on Tuesday reserved its order on Kanchi Shankaracharya Jayendra Saraswati's bail petition in a murder case.
The Shankaracharya is the prime accused in the murder of a former associate, Shankaraman.
In a related development, the woman alleged to have links with Shankaracharya Jayendra Saraswati, Usha, today surrendered before the Kanchipuram SP.
The police suspect the woman, who was declared an absconder, of being involved in the murder of Shankaraman. But today, she denied any role in the conspiracy.
"I know nothing about the murder. On October 12 a police officer came to my house and asked me whether I had applied for a passport. I said yes since I wanted to visit my friend in Dubai," Usha said.
"He came back again and asked me whether I knew anything about the murder. I said I don't," she added.
The police have also said they want to investigate her long phone conversations with the Shankaracharya right before and after the murder, but Usha says her relationship with the seer is that of a guru and a disciple.
Usha, a resident of Srirangam in Tamilnadu wanted in connection with the Sankararaman murder case. Sudha Ramalingam and Arivu Nidhi, the two advocates representing her, said Usha was not hiding or absconding as was made out by the prosecution. "She is very much available here [in Kanchipuram] for any inquiry," they told reporters in Usha's presence.
The advocates said Usha, a cancer patient, was a beneficiary of the Kanchi mutt's "generous help."
During the hearing of the seer's bail plea, the prosecution had told the Madras high court on Monday that the pontiff had extensive telephonic conversations with Usha at Srirangam. "We wanted to interrogate her, but she had made herself scarce and is absconding," Tulsi, senior Supreme Court lawyer appearing for the Tamilnadu government, had said.
Usha drove from Chennai to the district police office in Kanchipuram and appeared before the additional superintendent of police.
Ramalingam said Usha had to undergo many sittings of chemotherapy and had to be hospitalised several times. Her husband, Narayanan, had approached the Kanchi acharya for medical help.
Meanwhile, Usha told NDTV that she was not aware of the murder of Sankararaman as she never watched TV programmes or read newspapers because of her illness.
Asked about the allegations of money transfers made by the mutt to her, she said "nothing of that sort took place."
Denying that she was "absconding," Usha said in mid-October police came to her house in Srirangam to make some enquiries about her application for a passport.
She was advised by a friend to "come to Dubai for some rest." "I left Srirangam, where I was living with my aged mother, because I felt humiliated by police visits. Srirangam, being a small place, neighbours will view everything with suspicion," Usha added.
Earlier on Monday, the hearing on the bail application took an interesting turn when the Tamilnadu government claimed in court that the Shankaracharya of Kanchi had confessed to his involvement in the murder.
The government claimed that the seer's confession was recorded on camera. But this confession is not admissible as evidence in court, as it was reportedly made to the police and not before a magistrate.
BJP leader Sushma Swaraj has, meanwhile, demanded that the Centre ask for the tape allegedly carrying the confession of the Sharnkaracharya.
The state government, she said, seemed hell bent on destroying religious institutions and added that the Centre should not remain a mute spectator and act under section 256 and 257.
On her part, Tamilnadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa said that ordering the arrest of the Shankaracharya was the most painful decision she had taken.