In a sensational development in the high-profile sexual abuse case against former Union Minister Swami Chinmayanand, the survivor on Tuesday withdrew her allegations and disowned her statements during trial and will now faces a perjury charge. Appearing before a special Lucknow court, the LLM (Legum Magister or Master of Law) student categorically denied that she had levelled any allegation against the former minister as the prosecution had charged. Following this, the prosecution immediately moved an application under Section 340 of the CrPC, seeking action against her for perjury.
Judge PK Rai directed his office to register the application and asked the prosecution to furnish a copy of the application to the victim and the accused. The court fixed October 15 for hearing on the application.
The Allahabad High Court in February this year granted bail to Chinmayanand, whose trust runs the Shahjahanpur law college where the woman studied. He was arrested in September last year.
The case was registered under Section 376-C of the IPC, an offence pertaining to the abuse of one's position by a person in authority to "induce or seduce" a woman under his charge to have "sexual intercourse not amounting to the offence of rape".
Chinmayanand (72) also faced charges under Sections 342 (wrongful confinement), 354-D (stalking) and 506 (criminal intimidation) of the IPC.
According to government lawyer Abhay Tripathi, the victim had lodged an FIR in this regard with the Lodhi Colony police) station of New Delhi on September 5, 2019
Her father lodged another complaint in Shahjahanpur and both FIRs were merged.
An SIT (special investigation team) had recorded her statement. Later, her statement under Section 164 of the CrPC (criminal procedure code) was recorded in Shahjahanpur.
In both statements, she had supported the FIR (first information report) version but now during the trial, she changed her statement and denied the facts mentioned in the complaint.
Since she has turned hostile, I have moved an application under Section 340 of the CrPC, Tripathi said.
Earlier, the investigation officer had cited 33 witnesses and 29 documentary evidence in the 13-page charge sheet.
The Allahabad high court had on February 3, 2020 transferred the trial from Shahjahanpur to the Lucknow's MP-MLA court.
The case first came to light after the woman went missing on August 24, a day after she posted a video on social media alleging that a "senior leader of the sant community" was harassing and threatening to kill her.
Her father filed a complaint with police, accusing Chinmayanand of sexually harassing her, a charge refuted by the former Union minister's lawyer who claimed it was a "conspiracy" to blackmail him.
An SIT was constituted by the Uttar Pradesh government on the orders of the Supreme Court in September to investigate the charges levelled by the woman.
The law student was also later charged with trying to extort money from Chinmayanand. The 23-year-old woman and her three friends were booked on Chinmayanand's complaint that they had demanded Rs 5 crore from him.
The former Union minister alleged that they had threatened to make public video clips that showed him getting massages from the student. She was, however, granted bail in December.
The Supreme Court had last week set aside an Allahabad High Court order allowing Chinmayanand to get a copy of statement of the woman recorded before a magistrate in connection with the case against him, saying "utmost confidentiality is required to be maintained" in sexual exploitation cases.