In a setback to the whistle-blower and the victim in the rape case against godman Nithyananda, the Karnataka HC on Tuesday directed that they can no longer implead in the case and will only remain as witnesses.
The HC has also stayed the proceedings against Nithyananda and his associates in the trial court till it hears a discharge petition filed by him.
The victim’s counsel told TNM that they are thinking about approaching the Supreme Court after accessing a certified copy of the HC order.
“We are of the understanding that we should have been given the right of hearing. This is because in 2014, the apex court had clearly said the prosecution was not doing its job until we stepped in,” Ashwin Vaish told TNM.
This recent development comes after the Supreme Court in December 2017 had asked the trial court in Karnataka to go ahead and frame charges for a speedy trial. The apex court also said that the trial court need not take any documents provided by the accused in its defence.
Following that, Nithyananda's discharge petition was disallowed by the trial court and he approached the HC. This is incidentally the third time that the self-styled godman has approached the HC regarding this case.
Meanwhile, Nithyananda also failed to appear before the trial court on the day of framing of charges, on medical grounds.
“My contention is that the entire process is for the victim. Why should they not be heard in the case especially when all these arguments were considered by the Supreme Court when the accused had got a favourable verdict from the High Court,” the victim’s counsel asked.
Lenin Karuppan, a former disciple had exposed the controversial godman and registered a complaint with Chennai police in 2010. In this particular case, Nithyananda is accused of raping a former female disciple in the garb of religious practice.
A case under sections 295 A (insulting religious belief), 420 (cheating), 376 (rape), 377 (unnatural sex), 506 (i) (criminal Intimidation) and 120 B (criminal conspiracy) of the Indian Penal Code was registered against Nithyananda in 2010 by the Ramanagara police after the case was transferred to them.
Since the complaint in 2010, Nithyananda has been arrested twice and been granted bail from High Court, which delayed the start of the trial. It was only after Nithyananda got a favourable decision from the High Court that the victims approached the apex court.
In 2014, the Supreme Court had dismissed a petition by Nithyananda seeking to quash the chargesheet against him. He continued to file petitions to delay the proceedings and submitted documents claiming innocence including a fabricated potency report.
The controversial godman is also involved in other legal proceedings, including a case where he is contesting his sacking as a pontiff at Madurai Adheenam Mutt. The Madras High Court had recently warned Nithyananda that it will issue an arrest warrant if he does not rectify his “misleading” affidavits.