Friday, June 11, 2010

Swami Nithyananda’s bail plea allowed by High Court

The Karnataka High Court granted conditional bail on Friday to Swami Nithyananda, also known as Paramahamsa Nithyananda. Once the bail order is produced before the jail authorities and the Ramanagara Magistrate, Swami Nithyananda will be free again, after about two moths of prison life.

During his days in prison for almost two months, Nityananda has filed several petitions before the Ramanagara Court and the Karnataka High Court in Bangalore. This is the first of such pleas to bring him some relief. Two other petitions, seeking quashing of proceedings against him, his trusts, etc., and another petition against freezing of Nithyananda Dhyanapeetam Trust's bank accounts, are still pending before the court. He had moved the High Court after the Ramanagara Court rejected his plea for bail.

Senior counsel and former Advocate-General B.V. Acharya appeared on behalf of Nityananda before the High Court. He said the Karnataka CID had not been able to place any credible evidence against the godman so far. He said his client had been kept in jail on flimsy grounds. He also said Nithyananda was wrongly booked under several charges under the Indian Penal Code (IPC). He urged the court to grant him bail.

In his order, Justice Subash B. Adi allowed the bail petition of Nithyananda, subject to certain conditions. The court order asked Nithyananda Swami to refrain from giving any discourses or going away without permission of the jurisdictional courts at Ramanagara / Bangalore. The bail order also asked Nityananda to furnish a personal bond of Rs.100,000 and two personal sureties of Rs.100,000 each. Also, Paramahamsa Nithyananda has to report to a local police station once every fortnight. Swami Nithyananda was also asked to surrender his passport.

Nithyananda is likely to be freed on Monday from Ramanagara jail, about 40 km from Bangalore, according to jail authorities. They said The Karnataka High Court verdict will be presented to Ramanagara Magistrate who then will order the jail authorities to release Nithyananda after he executes the bond and agrees to fulfill other conditions stipulated by the bail order.

In March 2010, several television channels aired videos of Paramahamsa Nithyananda in his bedroom at Nithyananda Dhyanapeetam Ashram at Bidadi in Ramanagara District, allegedly showing him in sexual act with a woman, believed to be a Tamil film and television actress from Chennai. Nithyananda claimed the video footage was morphed.

Swami Nityananda had been on the run since March 23, 2010 when the Karnataka High Court dismissed his petition for anticipatory bail. Following the alleged sex scandal, Nithyananda has resigned as the head of Dhyanapeetam Ashram and various trusts he controls.

Swami Nithyananda was detected and arrested on April 21, 2010, along with one of his close disciples Bhaktananda and two others by the officers of the Criminal Investigation Department (CID), Karnataka, from a house in a village near Solan in Himachal Pradesh. Nithyananda has been in lodged at the Ramanagara jail since then.

Swami Nithyananda’s driver, Lenin Karuppan, also known as Swami Dharmananda, has filed a complaint against him at a Chennai police station. The Chennai police transferred the case to Karnataka as the scene of the alleged crimes was in Bidadi. Once the Bidadi police registered a case, the Criminal Investigation Department (CID), Karnataka took over the investigations against Nithyananda.

Paramahamsa Nithyananda has been reportedly slapped with several criminal charges including rape, unnatural sex, and criminal intimidation and cheating. The discovery by CID of a non-disclosure agreement signed by his devotees showed that Dhyanapeetam Ashram allegedly asked followers to sign a 'sex contract' as a preemptive move against any legal action by the devotees. The 10-page non-disclosure agreement alerts devotees about participation in activities that ‘involve nudity... close physical proximity and intimacy, verbal and written descriptions and audio sounds of a sexually oriented and erotic nature.’

When the news of Nithyananda’s bail reached Dhyanapeetam Ashram at Bidadi, the inmates welcomed the verdict and greeted each other with joy. They hoped that the ashram would ‘spring back’ to life once again on the return of Paramahamsa Nithyananda.

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