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Karnataka HC rejects plea to quash rape and POCSO charges against Chitradurga Mutt Head Pontiff

By Rintu Mariam Biju      12 March, 2024 04:53 PM      0 Comments
Karnataka HC rejects plea to quash rape and POCSO charges against Chitradurga Mutt Head Pontiff

BENGALURU: The Karnataka High Court, on Monday, refused to quash the rape charges against Shivamurthy Murugha Sharanaru, the head pontiff of Chitradurga's Murugharajendra Bruhat Mutt. 

The allegation was that the head pontiff had sexually assaulted minor girls studying in the educational institutions run by the mutt. He was arrested under the POCSO Act after the girls approached a Mysuru-based NGO Odanadi Seva Samsthe seeking help.

While observing that the Special Court for POCSO cases should not act as the ‘post-office’ of the prosecution, Justice M Nagaprasanna directed the Special Court to redraw the charges against the accused under provisions of the Religious Institutions (Prevention of Misuse) Act and the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act. It said that Section 3(f) and Section 7 of the Religious Institutions (Prevention of Misuse) Act, were loosely laid. The Court further said that the offences under the Atrocities Act, and Section 75 of the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015 are also loosely laid in the light of the fact that the offences are against accused no 2. And, therefore charges were asked to be redrawn. 

“Trial court could not have acted as a mere post office to what the prosecution had presented before it while framing charges. The following offences in the order framing the charge are held to be loosely laid against the petitioner…."

The Single judge delivered the verdict while partly allowing the four separate petitions filed by Dr Shivamurthy Murugha Sharanaru questioning the proceedings pending against him under the provisions of POCSO Act, Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, IPC, Religious Institutions (Prevention of Misuse) Act and the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act before the special court in Chitradurga.

In the judgement, the Bench did not agree with the offence of gang rape committed by the pontiff as it was the case of rape that was alleged.

All other offences concerning rape as envisaged under section 376 (2)(n) of the IPC and under Sections 4 and 6 of the POCSO act were sustained. It said “Since the order framing charge is a composite document the concerned court shall redraw the charges against the petitioner bearing in mind the observations made in the course of order.”



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