Chinmayanand Arrested by SIT, But Rape Charges ‘Diluted’
The SIT probing the survivor’s allegations had on Monday taken her before a judicial magistrate.
Hours after the arrest of BJP leader Swami Chinmayanand on Friday, 20 September, the woman who has accused him of rape said the police are trying to weaken the case against him.
“This has played out exactly as I feared... there is no justice,” said the woman.
A press note has listed the charge against Chinmayanand as section 376C of the IPC, or sexual intercourse by a person in authority, instead of section 376, which is punishment for rape.
But Uttar Pradesh police chief O P Singh said Chinmayanand has been arrested in connection with a case of rape, as reported by PTI.
"Yogiji is a good person, and all this was possible only due to him, she said, referring to the arrest. But I feel sad that the name of Swami Chinmayanand is linked with Yogi Adityanath. Chinmayanand is a rapist, and his name should not be associated with Yogi Adityanath, she said.
I was raped and the day I appeared before the SIT, I said Swami Chinmayanand has raped me. Why has he not been booked under section 376 of the IPC, and only a formality was carried out, she said.
Law Student Charged With Extortion
The woman who accused Chinmayanand, has been charged with an extortion case against him filed by Chinmayanand’s team, reported NDTV.
In a press release issued by the Special Investigation Team, the law student’s name featured as the fourth name among the accused as ‘Ms A’, reported The Hindu, but the police is yet to get clarity on whether her name was included in the extortion case FIR or explicitly named her as an accused.
“Prima facie her involvement has been found.”Naveen Arora, the head of the SIT
The police is yet to recover the mobile phones of Sanjay Singh, the key accused in the extortion case and the law student.
Earlier in the day, Chinmayanand was arrested earlier from Shahjahanpur after a UP law student levelled rape charges against him, has been sent to 14 day judicial custody by a local court.
The UP Police SIT, in a press conference, said that Chinmayanand has admitted to almost every allegation levelled against him, including sexual conversations.
“Swami Chinmayanand has admitted to almost every allegation levelled against him, including sexual conversations and body massage. Circumstantial evidences are also being examined. He said he doesn’t want to say more as he’s ashamed of his acts.”Naveen Arora, Special Investigation Team Chief, as quoted by ANI
‘Clear Dilution of Offences and Weakening of Case’: Vrinda Grover
UP DGP OP Singh sought to counter criticisms that the SIT had been dragging its heels on the case, saying to ANI:
“On direction of the SC we had constituted an SIT team and after a probe we arrested Swami Chinmayanand from his ashram and he has been sent to jail. There has been no delay in the case. We have also arrested three people over extortion threats to Swami Chinmayanand.”
The DGP also stated that charges of rape have also been added to the complaint against the BJP leader (see video above at 1:17).
However, after local reporters questioned this, The Quint was able to confirm that no charges of rape have actually been added by the SIT.
The Quint accessed a report of the SIT which shows that, in addition to the original offences of kidnapping and criminal intimidation alleged by the survivor’s father, the SIT has added offences under Section 376C and Section 354D of the IPC.
Supreme Court advocate Vrinda Grover strongly criticised this move by the SIT, saying that this was a “very clear dilution of the offences and a weakening of the case.”
Section 376C of the IPC deals with sexual intercourse by a position in authority, which does not amount to rape. It is punishable with rigorous imprisonment of five to ten years.
According to Grover, the correct provisions of law that were attracted in this case were under Section 376(2) of the IPC, which deals with ‘aggravated rape’, and is punishable with at least ten years’ life imprisonment, if not life imprisonment. Specifically, she said the complaint disclosed offences under sub-clauses
- 376(2)(f) – rape by a person in position of trust or authority;
- 376(2)(k) – rape by a man in a position of control or dominance over a woman; and
- 376(2)(n) – repeated rape.
Grover was of the view that the failure to add Section 376(2) to the FIR showed that there “is a very, very clear dilution of the offences and a weakening of the case.” She pointed out that this provision is more serious as
“has a corresponding section in the Indian Evidence Act. These aggravated rapes are circumstances where the rape is committed in a situation where the woman is in a coercive circumstance. And therefore, you cannot plead consent. The presumption shifts to the accused if the woman says that she did not consent and that sexual intercourse is proved.”
She therefore believes this constitutes a “clear effort to shield the accused”.
The Quint tried to contact DGP OP Singh for a response, but he was unavailable for comment.
Pooja Singh, the lawyer representing Chinmayanand told ANI that the BJP leader was arrested from his residence, when his health was critical. He was under the observation of doctors when the police arrived, she added, saying that she was not allowed to meet him.
The BJP leader was arrested by the special investigation team (SIT) of Uttar Pradesh police from his residence ‘Divya Dham’ in Shahjahanpur amid heavy security deployment, his lawyer Pooja Singh told PTI.
He has been taken for medical examination to a government hospital, she said.
Singh said the SIT took signatures of Chinmayanand's relatives on the arrest memo but no arrest-related documents, including a copy of the FIR, were given to them.
As Chinmayanand was taken to the hospital for medical check-up, patients had to face a tough time as they were not allowed to enter the premises, according to PTI.
Teams led by senior police officials have been deployed at the court premises and the hospital. A team of police officials is also patrolling the area to ensure there is no disturbance, a senior official said.
Priyanka Slams BJP
Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi Vadra on Friday said the government took action against Chinmayanand only after the woman, who accused him of rape, threatened self-immolation.
Taking to Twitter, she said it was the strength of the public and journalism that Chinmayanand had to be arrested.
"The BJP government is so thick skinned that it did not take action till the rape survivor said that she will self immolate herself. This is the strength of the public and of journalism that the SIT had to arrest Chinmayanand," she said.
"The public has ensured that 'Beti Bachao' does not remain in mere slogans but becomes a reality on the ground," she added.
Allegations of Rape Against Chinmayanand
The special investigation team (SIT) probing the woman’s allegations had on Monday taken the woman before Judicial Magistrate Geetika Singh to record her statement.
The 23-year-old woman, a student at a law college that Chinmayanand runs, has alleged that Chinmayanand sexually exploited her for a year after helping her with admission into his college.
Inspector General Naveen Arora, who heads the SIT, said a mobile phone and a pen drive given by the student have been sent for forensic examination.
The pen drive contains 43 video clips which the student says support her allegations, PTI reported.
Police has registered a case of criminal intimidation and abduction against Chinmayanand on a complaint lodged by the woman's father. Later, the student also accused him of rape and "physical exploitation".
Chinmayanand, who was admitted to the medical college in Shahjahanpur on Wednesday, was referred to King George's Medical University (KGMU) in Lucknow.
But he chose to return to his residence on Thursday and get ayurvedic treatment there, according to his counsel Om Singh.
He underwent several tests at the Shahjahanpur hospital where a team of four doctors monitored his condition, a spokesperson told PTI.
The student had earlier threatened self-immolation if the police do not arrest him.
(With inputs from PTI, ANI, NDTV and The Hindu)
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