The investigation into the death of Sr. Abhaya, a young Catholic nun has been going on for 16 years. She was found dead in the well of her convent. A nun who was in the same convent as Abhaya and two priests were arrested recently as prime suspects for murdering Abhaya. (See Kerala: The arrest of two Catholic priests and a nun for murder)
Granting the accused bail, the Kerala High Court came out with scathing criticism of the way the latest team of sleuths (there had been a few earlier) of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) is handling the case. The Court also expressed disapproval of the media role, and the accused nun being subjected to virginity test.
The virginity test in this case defies logic. It could have only two results – either the woman concerned had sexual intercourse or she was still inviolate. This is determined on the finding whether the hymen is still intact, though that need not lead to a precise conclusion.
The Catholic Church resorts to virginity test in instances were annulment of marriage is sought on the claim of non-consummation. But the examination is done discretely and total secrecy is maintained. In the Abhaya case the news was in the media in no time.
The CBI theory, as far as I can make out, is that Abhaya saw the accused in a compromising position and the threesome resorted to murder to silence her.
What was the CBI trying to prove with the virginity test? Assuming that the accused nun was found to be not a virgin in 2008, what bearing does it have to Abhaya’s death 16 years ago? She could have, if at all, lost her virginity before the alleged murder or some time after it.
If a lady is proved to be a virgin according to the test, does it confirm that she has not indulged in sexual activities with the opposite gender? Certainly not. What then was the relevance of the virginity test in the Abhaya case?
Then there was the unfortunate publicity to the event. Belonging to a religious order neither invests any one with special rights nor take away any existing rights. Every accused has to be treated decently and humanely.
Yesterday the doctor who conducted the post mortem on Abhaya’s body gave a secret statement before the concerned Magistrate that Abhaya drowned in her convent’s well and the death could amount to manslaughter. I do not know whether a doctor is legally competent to make such an observation. If this claim has deviated from his original report, he would have a tough time to survive cross examination.
What is incredible however is that the ‘secret’ deposition was all over the media within hours.
What is the CBI up to? Are they on the right track or messing up the investigation? The High Court has done well to instruct the CBI to bring the current investigation team under the direct supervision of an experienced and competent senior officer.
The CBI’s reaction? Reportedly the agency is contemplating appeal to the Supreme Court.