HC rejects whistleblower’s plea to transfer Nithyananda rape case out of Ramanagara

The Karnataka High Court has, however, asked the trial court in Ramanagara to expedite the trial against Nithyananda.
HC rejects whistleblower’s plea to transfer Nithyananda rape case out of Ramanagara
HC rejects whistleblower’s plea to transfer Nithyananda rape case out of Ramanagara

In a setback to Lenin Karuppan, the whistleblower and former disciple of self-styled godman Nithyananda in 2010, the Karnataka High Court dismissed his plea that sought that the rape case against the godman be transferred out of Ramanagara. 

The complainants in the rape case had alleged that the trial is being delayed and is progressing at a very slow rate. Lenin had also filed a plea objecting to the re-recording of some evidence, which had already been taken on record, over a technicality that the translator himself was a witness in the case.

Nithyananda is facing a trial under Sections 376 (rape), 420 (cheating), 114 (criminal abetment), 201 (disappearance of evidence, giving false information), 120B (criminal conspiracy).

The Karnataka High Court bench led by Justice BA Patil, however, stated that there was no reasonable record to ascertain the apprehension voiced by the complainants. The judge cited multiple Supreme Court judgements and High Court guidelines, urged the local court in Ramanagara to expedite the trial. 

“In view of the aforesaid facts and circumstances of the case, the petition being devoid of merits is liable to be dismissed and accordingly the same stands dismissed,” the order said. “The trial court is directed to expedite the trial. Registry is directed to send back the trial court records forthwith,” it added.

Nithyananda is accused of raping a woman disciple for close to five years under the garb of spirituality. During the course of the trial, Nithyananda has changed his defence multiple times —from being impotent to having consensual sex with the survivor.

Nithyananda had also approached higher courts and had managed to delay the start of trial till August 2018, when charges were framed against him after the Supreme Court directed the Third Additional District and Session Court to dispose of the case expeditiously.

Nithyananda, who has fled the country, is now believed to be in Belize. Since the complaint was filed in 2010, Nithyananda has been arrested twice but been granted bail from higher courts. The trial court has been accused of being reluctant in issuing a non-bailable warrant against Nithyananda but at the same time allowing a petition filed by Nithyananda’s advocate, seeking an exemption for making an appearance in court, despite objections from the Public Prosecutor. 

Other than the rape case, Nithyananda is also wanted by the Gujarat police in connection with a child abuse and abduction case. In November 2019, two of his associates were arrested and Nithyananda was booked under sections 365 (abduction), 344 (wrongful confinement), 323 (voluntarily causing hurt), 504 (intentional insult to provoke breach of peace) and 506 (criminal intimidation) of the Indian Penal Code, and under Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act.

This case led the Gujarat Police to approach the Interpol to issue a blue corner notice against him.

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