BENGALURU: As the chapter finally closed on the long-drawn-out case of Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh of Dera Sacha Sauda with his conviction and incarceration, Karnataka’s self-styled godman Nithyananda’s trial shows similar signs of being a lengthy legal process.The case against Nithyananda pending in the trial court in Ramanagara has not moved even an inch as several petitions related to the case are pending before the Supreme Court which has stayed the trial court proceedings. Interestingly, the SC is likely to take up the hearing in 10 days time after the hearing on the Cauvery water dispute concludes.
Advocate for Karnataka in the Supreme Court, V N Raghupathy, told Express that the bench of Justices Dipak Misra and A M Khanwilkar which is hearing all matters related to Nithyananda, has indicated to the counsel that they should wait till the hearing on the Cauvery dispute is over. Justice Misra heads the three-judge bench along with Justices Amitava Roy and A M Khanwilkar on the Cauvery dispute. The bench is hearing the matter daily, leaving them no time to deal with other matters. “All the cases related to Nithyananda are tied to these hearings and we expect them to resume after next Thursday since the Cauvery dispute hearing will be over then,” he said.
The Criminal Investigation Department (CID) had filed a chargesheet in November 2010 charging Nithayananda alias Rajasekaran with rape, cheating, criminal intimidation and unnatural sex. The case has seen its fair share of twists and turns. Nithyananda made news when a video of him in a compromising position with an actress found its way to Tamil TV channels.
Later, his driver Lenin Karuppan and another disciple Vishwanath filed a complaint based on which police had registered a complaint of rape and cheating. The case was quickly transferred to CID, which also filed additional charges. As he started facing heat, Nithyananda, who lived in his ashram near Bidadi, made a run for it but was arrested from Himachal Pradesh. He spent more than a month in jail before he was granted bail. Later, a former woman disciple also lodged a complaint of rape against the godman with theCID. In turn, Nityananda also filed several cases against her, one of them in the US. Counter-complaints were filed against Lenin Karuppan as well and at one time, Lenin went into hiding, fearing for his life.
Nithyananda also underwent potency tests of his own accord and tried to prove that he did not have the testosterone levels required to classify him as a man and hence he was not capable of having sexual intercourse. However, the Supreme Court directed him to undergo a potency test in 2014 as well as give blood and voice samples.
Nithyananda had also filed a petition seeking access to the statements of 32 people, who were members from his ashram including the actress. While the High Court allowed it, the state government challenged it and filed a Special Leave Petition saying those statements cannot not be handed over to him as they were not part of the chargesheet. This issue too is pending before the Supreme Court.
The CID chargesheet mentioned the now famous 10-page non disclosure agreements that disciples of Nithyananda had to sign. Excerpts of the agreements included parts like the volunteer could “not disclose the existence of the agreement, the nature of any relationship between the volunteer and leader.” The agreement read: “...Volunteer also affirms that he/she does not find sexual or adult oriented material associated with the practice of any Tantric rituals or any other adult oriented material to be offensive or objectionable. Volunteer understands the Program may involve the learning and practice of ancient tantric secrets associated with male and female ecstasy including those of sexual energy for increased intimacy/spiritual connection, pleasure, harmony and freedom. Volunteer understands that these activities could be physically and mentally challenging and may involve nudity and access to visual images, graphic visual depictions and descriptions of nudity and sexual activity, close physical proximity and intimacy, etc.”