A POCSO (Protection of Children Against Sexual Offences) court in Trivandrum, Kerala on Tuesday quashed the bail plea of self-styled godman Ganeshananda. Petta Police had registered a case against Ganeshananda under Sections of POCSO Act and Section 376 (rape) of the Indian Penal Code. It also ordered that the women who allegedly cut off his genitals will have to undergo lie detector test.
On May 20 this year, a 23-year-old woman had informed the police that she had castrated a 54-year-old Swami who had allegedly attempted to rape her. The woman described the act as vengeance and self-defence. The godman has an ashram in Panmana in Kollam, Kerala. Her parents were followers of Ganeshananda. The accused named Hari alias Ganeshananda Theerthapada Swami was reported to have been abusing the woman for several years. It was alleged that the girl was a minor when the abuse began. The swami had been frequenting her home in Pettah for many years to perform rituals and was familiar with the family.
In a bizarre turn, however, she retracted her earlier claim that she had attacked Ganeshananda. She purportedly made a statement that was produced in court by the counsel of the accused Swami Gangesanantha Teerthapadar. The statement was submitted to request bail for Ganeshananda.
Her statement read: “Swamiji loved and cared for me like a kid and I too loved him back. He had motivated me to join the LLB course and helped me throughout the course. The allegation that the swami had sexually harassed me is false. He hadn’t raped me when I was a minor nor even after I turned an adult.” She said that it was her friend Ayyappadas and his friends who attacked Ganeshananda adding that they thought the swami was looting money from her parents.
After the castration, the godman was taken to Trivandrum medical college and a plastic surgery was done on him to save him. Two days later, he was shifted to a special cell and the judge remanded him to judicial custody till June 3.
Under the circumstances of the case, the woman got the protection of both the POCSO Act and the IPC Section 376.
Questions were raised on retaliation after so many years of the alleged abuse. According to law, Battered Women’s Syndrome can be submitted as a defence for an act of delayed private defence, in some cases even as a prime defence argument.
Also, Sections 96 to 106 of the IPC deal with the right to private defence of a person and property. Its provisions allow in certain cases protection of one’s body and property in such a manner when the immediate help of government institutions or officials is not available.