Lucknow, Mar 27 (ILNS) A special court has acquitted former Union Minister and BJP leader Swami Chinmayanand on charges of keeping a law student in captivity, allegedly to rape her, after all witnesses in the case turned hostile.
The prosecution could not prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt, observed Special Judge of MP-MLA Court P K Rai, while acquitting the former minister in the Union Cabinet. The victim student too had turned hostile during the course of the trial in the case against Chinmayanand, the court noted.
In a separate case, the court also acquitted the law student and five others, including Sanjay Singh, DPS Rathore, Vikram Singh, Sachin Singh and Ajeet Singh, accused of blackmailing Chinmayannand and trying to extort Rs five crore from him. All the accused, including the law student and the Minister, are out on bail and were present in the court as the orders were issued.
The BJP leader was arrested in September, 2019, after being accused of sexually assaulting a law student studying in the Shahjahanpur Law College, run by Chinmayanand’s Trust.
The court examined more than 20 prosecution witnesses in each of the two cases. During the trial, the prosecution declared the student hostile after she disowned her statement to the court. She claimed to have levelled allegations against the former Union minister ‘under pressure by miscreants’. She, however, did not identify the miscreants.
In the case against Chinmayanand, no defence witness was examined. However, one defence witness was examined in the case against the woman, said government counsel Abhay Tripathi.
The woman studied in a law college in Shahjahanpur run by a Trust set up by Chinmayanand. According to the prosecution, in August 2019, the 23-year-old went missing after uploading a video on the social media, in which she blamed an ‘influential sant-politician’ for harassing and destroying the lives of many girls in her college.
She did not name anyone, but her father alleged that she was referring to Chinmayanand, who is also president of the college’s management committee. The same month, Chinmayanand’s advocate lodged an FIR in Shahjahanpur, stating that the former BJP MP had received a threat message on his cellphone.
According to the lawyer, the caller demanded Rs five crore and threatened to malign Chinamayanand’s image, if the demand was not fulfilled. The sender also claimed to possess a video that he warned would go viral.
The UP government then formed a Special Investigation Team (SIT) to investigate the two cases. On August 30, 2019, police found the girl in Rajasthan along with a youth. The following month, the SIT arrested Chinmayanand from his ashram, based on the allegation that he sexually assaulted the law student.
On September 25, the SIT arrested the woman from her home for allegedly trying to extort the money from the former minister. They also arrested her associates, who were allegedly found involved in the blackmail incident. ILNS/SNG/RJ