The charge sheet, filed by the head of the investigation team of the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) against Raghaveshwara Bharati Swami of Ramachandrapura Mutt in a case of allegedly raping a devotee of the mutt, was “not a charge sheet in the eye of law as it is not filed by the officer in-charge of a police station,” said the High Court of Karnataka.
While reiterating an earlier judgment, in which the High Court had held that an officer of the CID could not be construed as an officer in-charge of police station as is found in Section 173 of Cr.PC, the High Court said that all proceedings based on the charge sheet were non est.
“If the charge sheet is filed by a person who is not the authorised person to file a final report as is contemplated under Section 173 of the Cr.PC, the entire proceedings would definitely stands vitiated. Consequently, the further proceedings in pursuance of the said charge sheet is to be declared as non est,” the court observed.
Justice V. Srishananda passed the order while dismissing two petitions filed by the State Government and the victim woman questioning the trial court’s March 2016 order. The trial court had discharged the seer from the allegations while holding that “there was no iota of material to frame charges against him”.
“Since the entire charge sheet stood vitiated and the proceedings in furtherance to such a charge sheet has been held as non est, there is no necessity for this court to consider the argument on behalf of the victim in this regard any further. For the sake of unambiguity, it is made clear that the impugned order [of discharge] being non est has no consequence whatsoever in law,” the High Court said.
The CID had filed the charge sheet under three provisions of the Indian Penal Code – Section 376(2)(f) for allegedly raping a woman towards whom he was in a “position of authority, he was in a “position of authority, trust and a teacher”; and Section 376(2)(n) for “repeatedly raping a woman”; and Section 508 “for an act caused by inducing a person to believe that he will be rendered an object of the divine displeasure”.
The investigation was carried out based on an initial complaint by the victim’s daughter in 2014, alleging that the seer had sexually harassed her mother. Later, the woman had given a statement to the police that she was raped more than 150 times between 2011 and 2014.
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