March 27, 2021 9:21:06 am
A special court here acquitted former Union minister Chinmayanand on Friday in connection with a case of sexual harassment of a law student.
In a separate case, the court acquitted the law student and five others accused of blackmailing Chinmayannand and trying to extort Rs 5 crore from him. All the accused, including the law student and the minister, are out on bail and were present in court as the orders were issued.
“Special Judge Pawan Kumar Rai acquitted Chinmayanand from all charges against him. In another case, the court acquitted the law student and five others. The accused of both cases have been acquitted for want of evidence,” said Lucknow District Government Counsel Manoj Tripathi.
The court examined more than 20 prosecution witnesses in each of the two cases. During the trial, the prosecution declared the student hostile after she disowned her statement to the court. She claimed to have levelled allegations against the former union minister “under pressure by miscreants”. She, however, did not identify the miscreants.
In the case against Chinmayanand, no defence witness was examined. However, one defence witness was examined in the case against the woman, said government counsel Abhay Tripathi.
The woman studied in a law college in Shahjahanpur run by a Trust set up by Chinmayanand. According to the prosecution, in August 2019 the 23-year-old woman went missing after uploading a video on Facebook in which she blamed an “influential sant-politician” for harassing and destroying the lives of many girls in her college. She did not name anyone, but her father alleged that she was referring to Chinmayanand, who is also president of the college’s management committee.
The same month, Chinmayanand’s advocate lodged an FIR in Shahjahanpur stating that the former BJP MP had received a threat message on his cellphone. According to the lawyer, the caller demanded Rs 5 crore and threatened to malign Chinamayanand’s image if the demand was not fulfilled. The sender also claimed to possess a video that he warned would go viral.
The UP government then formed a Special Investigation Team (SIT) to investigate the two cases. On August 30, 2019, the police found the girl in Rajasthan along with a youth. The following month, the SIT arrested Chinmayanand from his ashram based on the allegation that he sexually assaulted the law student.
On September 25, the SIT arrested the woman from her home for allegedly trying to extort the money from the former minister. They also arrested her associates, who were allegedly found involved in the blackmail incident.
On November 6, 2019, the SIT filed chargesheets in the two cases in a local court in Shahjahanbpur. Except for two men, Dharmendra Pratap Singh Rathore and Ajeet Singh, all other accused were arrested and sent to jail.
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