New Delhi: The Allahabad High Court has granted interim anticipatory bail to former Union minister and BJP leader Swami Chinmayanand in a rape case filed against him in Shahjahanpur in 2011.
The bench comprising Justice Samit Gopal passed the order Monday. The court said that Chinmayanand would be granted interim anticipatory bail till the next date of listing on 6 February, on furnishing a personal bond of Rs 1 lakh, along with two sureties. The court also directed the survivor and the state government to file their replies within four weeks.
The court was hearing an application for anticipatory bail filed by Chinmayanand in an FIR filed against him under sections 376 (rape) and 506 (criminal intimidation) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).
In November 2011, the survivor had written a letter to then Uttar Pradesh chief minister Mayawati, making allegations of detention, sexual assault and abortion against Chinmayanand. According to the court order, the victim is a resident of Budaun and became familiar with Chinmayanand in 2001. Once she became a disciple of Chinmayanand, she was taken to Parmarth Ashram, Haridwar, in 2004. However, she alleged that this was when his attitude towards her changed.
She also alleged that in 2005, she was detained by Chinmayanand’s personal guards and brought to Mumuchha Ashram, Shahjahanpur. She has accused him of then establishing physical relationship with her, by mixing intoxicants in her food. She also accused him of filming and blackmailing her on the basis of those audio-visual videos and photographs. She has also claimed that she got pregnant twice during this time, but her pregnancy was aborted in Bareilly and Lucknow.
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‘Old and infirm 75-year-old’
After the FIR was lodged in 2011, Chinmayanand had challenged it in the Allahabad High Court. In December, 2011, a division bench of the high court ordered that no coercive action would be taken against him till the next date of hearing or till a charge sheet is filed in the case.
The writ petition was then disposed of in July 2012, granting protection and stay of his arrest during the pendency of the investigation. The UP Police then filed a charge sheet in the case in 2012.
However, the case took a turn in March 2018 when the state government issued an order for its withdrawal in the Shahjahanpur court. However, in May 2018, the then chief judicial magistrate of Shahjahanpur rejected the application filed by the public prosecutor for withdrawing the case.
This order was upheld by the Allahabad High Court on 30 September this year, and the high court asked Chinmayanand to surrender before the concerned magistrate on or before 30 October 2022. This period was extended till 30 November by the Supreme Court.
However, since Chinmayanand did not surrender by 30 November, a special MP/MLA court in Uttar Pradesh’s Shahjahanpur started proceedings under section 82 (proclamation against a person absconding) of CrPC against the accused. He was therefore declared a proclaimed offender.
In his anticipatory bail application before the high court, Chinmayanand was now represented by senior advocate Anoop Trivedi, assisted by advocates Ankit Shukla and Abhinav Gaur.
They had contended that he is an “old and infirm person” aged about 75 years, has several ailments, and no criminal antecedents. The court was also told that he has several ashrams in different parts of the country and that he is also the managing trustee of various trusts that impart religious and academic education. They also mentioned about “hospitals which are being run under the supervision” of Chinmayanand.
Granting him interim anticipatory bail, the court Monday also set the conditions for it. It said that Chinmayanand shall not make any “inducement, threat or promise to any person acquainted with the facts of the case so as to dissuade him / her from disclosing such facts to the court”. It also barred Chinmayanand from leaving India without the court’s permission.
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