Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa on Sunday ruled out withdrawal of cases against Kanchi seer Jayendra Saraswati, as demanded by the Bharatiya Janata Party.
"I cannot yield to their request contrary to the law of the land, especially when I have taken an oath under the Constitution, which is of a secular nature," she said in a seven-page statement.
"Adherents of the BJP think that religious leaders are above law and no investigation can be conducted against them.
"It is for the public to think and judge whether their view is right or not. BJP may be interested in taking up this issue in their programme to rehabilitate their party," she said.
"No one wished and expected that the heads of the Sankara Mutt, established to uphold Hindu dharma, would stray from the path of dharma and doctrines of shastras to be arraigned as accused in a murder case. At the same time, when all the evidence clearly pointed towards them in the commission of such a crime, that could not be ignored," she said.
Jayalalithaa said appropriate officers are investigating the Sankararaman murder case.
When the investigation is taking place, even the judiciary cannot intervene, she said. "It is their statutory right. How is it possible legally for me to interfere or intervene in the matter? Also, I have no necessity to do that."
Even though the BJP knows all this, it is asking her to withdraw the cases, she said. "It is painful to note that such requests are being made by persons who had earlier administered the country. When an investigation is in progress in a murder case, how is it possible that the case be withdrawn?"
It is a fundamental principle of law that an investigation stands apart and is beyond the chief minister's personal likes and dislikes. "It is amazing how this elementary principle is not known to those making this demand.
"Even without knowing the basic principle of investigation in a murder case, they have chosen to drag my name into the investigation process purely out of animosity towards me. They should at least now realise this and desist from such scurrilous attacks. When the law empowers the investigation officers to have the necessary and essential power to investigate, how can a chief minister interfere in it one way or the other?" she asked.
Jayalalithaa said with the progress of the investigation, a situation arose wherein the seer's arrest became inevitable.
She said Sankararaman's murder and the assault on Radhakrishnan and Madhavan pose a severe challenge to the police.
As the investigations were being carried on, answers to several intriguing questions unfolded, revealing certain shocking facts. "It pointed to the involvement of certain personages, who could never have been suspected of involvement in such crimes. When these names were brought to my knowledge, it came as a rude shock to me."
"In the entire episode, I have acted without fear or favour. These three cases point to the fact that the three persons, who were victims of the assaults, had at some point of time connections with the Kanchi Sankara Mutt. This will raise the relevant questions as to why all the three persons should have been assaulted or murdered," she said.
Jayalalithaa said Sankararaman's murder was not an ordinary incident. "It is a murder, a brutal murder of an orthodox temple manager, committed by hirelings, in broad daylight within the temple premises. Should this be left uninvestigated? Is it their view that hired assassins and conspirators should be allowed to go scot-free? Should those involved in the perpetration of this murder be shown mercy and allowed to go without any action taken against them under the law?" she asked.