LUCKNOW: Former Union minister Swami Chinmayanand, who is out on bail in a case in which he is accused of sexually abusing a law student, appeared before a special MP/MLA court here on Wednesday.
Judge PK Rai fixed March 4 as the next date of hearing for the framing of charges.
Chinmayanand, 72, was released from the Shahjahanpur district jail after the Allahabad High Court granted him bail.
While granting him bail, Justice Rahul Chaturvedi also transferred Chinmayanand's trial from Shahjahanpur to Lucknow, taking note of the victim's apprehension that he could influence proceedings in his hometown.
"The trial court will take up the case on a priority basis, preferably on a day-to- day basis and the trial will be concluded within one year," the high court had said.
The bail order directed Chinmayanand to file an undertaking that he would not seek any adjournments and be present in the court.
The court had also directed Lucknow's senior superintendent of police to depute a senior sub-inspector and armed constables for the security of the student and her family members during the trial period.
Chinmayanand, whose trust runs the Shahjahanpur law college where the woman studied, was arrested on September 20 under Section 376-C of the IPC, a charge short of rape.
It is applied when someone in authority takes advantage of his official position to "induce or seduce" a woman to have sex with him.
In a parallel case, the woman was arrested for trying to extort money from Chinmayanand, whom she had accused of rape.
She and her three friends had allegedly threatened to release video clips of massages she claimed she was forced to perform on the politician, who was disowned by the ruling BJP after the sexual abuse charges surfaced.
The high court granted the woman bail in the extortion case on December 4.
While allowing bail to Chinmayanand, the high court said it is difficult to determine at this stage who exploited whom in the case.
Justice Chaturvedi suggested that it may be a case of quid pro quo but asked the trial court not to be influenced by the higher court's observations.
"As pointed out earlier, that 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," he said, taking note of the material on record indicating that the woman and her family received favours from the politician.
Last year, the Supreme Court had stepped in when the 23-year-old student went missing for a few days in August after posting a video clip on social media, alleging sexual abuse.
A special investigation team of Uttar Pradesh Police, formed on the directions of the apex court, later arrested Chinmayanand and the student.