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Inter alia, the High Court also observes, "A girl, whose virginity is at stake, not uttering a single word to her own parent or before the Court regarding the alleged incident, is an astonishing conduct which speak volumes about the ingeniousness of the prosecution story.”
Swami Chinmayanand, who stands accused of sexual assault by an LLM student from Shahjahanpur, was granted bail by the Allahabad High Court on Monday.
Justice Rahul Chaturvedi allowed the bail plea filed by Chinmayanand, upon finding that it is unclear as to who has used whom between Chinmayanand and the LLM student who has alleged the sexual assault. In this regard, the judge raises eyebrows over the student’s failure to speak out against the sexual assault for months. The order states,
"During the entire period of the alleged atrocities committed by the applicant, she was sharing private moments with the applicant, got her family member employed in the College and other material benefits from the applicant. There is nothing on record to show that she ever objected to or raised any protest or divulged anything adverse before the claimed incident."
The judge’s observations were made in the backdrop of contentions that the LL.M student had used Chinmayanand’s influence to obtain her post-graduate admission, and further that he had helped her family obtain employment. In this regard, a Special Investigation Team’s findings were also referred to.
Other observations made by the judge before he granted bail, subject to several conditions, include the following.
Relationship between father and daughter “seems quite strange”
The bail application has also prompted the judge to express some reservations regarding the genuineness of the case against Chinmayanand. In this regard, the Court first refers to the manner in which the FIR against Chinmayanand was lodged.
In particular the judge highlights that the FIR was lodged by the father of the LLM student, only based on Facebook posts by her, rather than on the basis of any direct contact between them.
“The relationship between father and the daughter seems to be quite strange as they were having no direct contacts and were alien to each other and the father was taking stock of the situation of his daughter through her facebook account.”
The Court goes on to refer to Chinmayanand’s contention that the FIR against him was lodged after unsuccessfully trying to blackmail him to pay a ransom of Rs 5 crores.
Astonishing that “girl whose virginity at stake” did not speak about the incident
The Court then proceeded to question the veracity of the LLM student’s allegations, given the time taken by her to speak about the sexual assault to others. Referring to the proceedings that took place before the Supreme Court earlier, the judge remarks,
“A girl, whose virginity is at stake, not uttering a single word to her own parent or before the Court regarding the alleged incident, is an astonishing conduct which speak volumes about the ingeniousness of the prosecution story.”
Allahabad High Court
Both accused and alleged victim crossed limits
The Court continues to finds itself non-plussed over the student’s failure to inform others about the sexual assault in that backdrop of allegations that she had enjoyed Chinmayanand’s “patronage” and “benevolence.” In this regard, the Court observes,
“What is mind boggling, disturbing and matter of concern is that a student of LL.M., i.e. Miss “A” comes into contact with the applicant, seeks and enjoys his 'patronage' and 'benevolence' as well as on her family members and in lieu of that she was said to be exploited physically by the applicant, keeps mum throughout the entire long period for almost 9-10 months.
She never shared anything with anyone including her parents. On the other hand, during those dark period, on her own, purchased an spy-camera fitted goggles, from which she shot nude pictures and recorded videos of the accused, which were used by her in demanding the ransom money from the accused applicant, after blackmailing her.”
Bearing these findings in mind a well, the judge remarks in his order,
“In the present scenario where this Court finds that it might be a case of quid pro quo, the intriguing question arises whether the applicant be granted bail or not?”
The Court eventually opines, “… both the parties crossed their limits and at this stage it is very difficult to adjudicate as to who exploited whom?? In fact, both of them used each other. “
“Complete matter of quid pro quo”
In the course of the order, the Court referred to the Supreme Court’s observations in the 2019 case of P Chidambaram v CBI, wherein the top Court deprecated the practice of giving any finding on the merits while granting bail. In view of the same, Justice Chaturvedi also opines that “this Court is also shunning to express its opinion on the merits of the case.”
All the same, the Court proceeds to opine that the instant case is a “matter of quid pro quo”, in view of the LLM student’s long silence on her ordeal, coupled with the alleged benefits she got out of her connection with Chinmayanand. After also noting that the police has filed final chargesheets in the matter, Justice Chaturvedi records in his order,
“… there are material on record where the family members of Miss “A” were being benefited out of the solipsistic behavior of the accused applicant. It is also noticeable that there is also nothing on record that during the period of the alleged atrocities committed upon Miss “A” she made any complaint or even any whisper to her family members against the accused applicant."
That being said, the judge proceeded to caution that its observations should not affect the trial court in deciding the matter. As recorded in the order,
“It is … earnestly directed that no observation of this Court in passing this order shall effect either ways by the trial court during trial. The trial court would apply its own judicial discretion and accused while adjudicating the trial of the instant case.”
The judge also considered relevant that the trial court has already taken cognisance of the case and, thereby, "blurred chances of any tampering of evidence at this stage.” Further, it was noted that the LLM student has also been granted bail with respect to the charges levelled by Chinmayanand that she was involved in blackmailing him to exhort ransom.
Ultimately, bail was granted to Chinmayanand alias Krishna Pal Singh, subject to the furnishing of a personal bond and two heavy sureties each. Further conditions imposed, the violation of which may entail the cancellation of bail, include:
That Chinmayanand furnish an undertaking that the would not seek any adjournment before the trial court;
That Chinmayanand remain present for each date of trial, personally or through counsel - at all stages of trial;
That the trial court endeavour to complete the trial within one year.
Trial transferred to Lucknow
Before parting with the case, the High Court also directed that the trial be shifted from Shahjahanpur to Lucknow. Further the Lucknow Court has been directed to take up the matter on priority basis, as soon as possible.
Moreover, the judge has also directed that the Senior Superintendent of Police, Lucknow ensure the protection and security of the LLM student.
Earlier, a local court in Shahjahanpur had rejected the bail pleas filed by both Chinmayanand and the law student who had levelled the allegations. The LLM student was later granted bail by the Allahabad High Court in December last year, in the extortion case filed by Chinmayanand against her.
[Read the Order]