The three City-based brothers who donated 15 acres of land to self-proclaimed godman Nithyananda in 2003, when the Bidadi ashram was established, on Tuesday served a legal notice on the Nithyananda Dhyanapeetam in a bid to reclaim the property.
The two-page legal notice comes as a major blow to sex scandal-tainted Nithyananda, arrested in Solan in Himachal Pradesh by a joint Karnataka CID and Himachal Pradesh police team on Wednesday, after some influential NRIs in the United States demanded the godman return the millions of dollars they had donated to his so-called healing and spiritual foundations.
The Karnataka CID is also investigating any irregularities that Nithyananda and his secretary Sadhananda, alias Dhanasekaran, might have been involved in when the land was donated.
Deccan Herald broke the story on March 11, nine days after the sex scandal broke, that Nithyananda is the sole owner of the 21.10 acres of land over which his Bidadi ashram is built. The land was neither registered in the name of Dhyana Peeta Charitable Trust, which came up in 2003, nor in the name of Nithyananda Dhyanapeetam, which was set up as a trust in 2005.
The land donors were Ramalinga Gupta, N Mukund, Shanth Kumar Gupta, K R Shashidhar, N Pratap, S Vinayak, Jeevan Rao, H A Vijayendra and Inder Hari Inder. While donating the property to Nithyananda, these persons identified themselves as farmers.
While a copy of the gift deed is available with Deccan Herald, there are other documents which show that the land was registered in the name of Nithyananda. By possessing over 21 acres of farm land Nithyananda had violated Sections 79(A)(B) and 83 of the Karnataka Land Reforms Act, 1961.
Violation of KLR Act
The law also states that Nithyananda may have violated Section 80 of the KLR Act, according to which no transfer or sale of land to non-agriculturists is allowed. The penalty for such violation invites forfeiture and the land will be vested in the State Government.
Speaking to Deccan Herald, one of the three prominent donors, S. Pratap, said he and S Vinayak had given Jeevan Rao the power of attorney to deal with the matter arising out of the legal notice served on Nithyananda.
Sources close to the three brothers said the Rao siblings were outraged by Nithyananda's "unbecoming and reprehensible conduct" and that they believe the land they gifted was not being used for the purpose for which it was donated.
Nagaraj Shetty, one of the earliest "donors" of half-an-acre, told Deccan Herald that "Nithyananda virtually forced me to part with my land". Shetty said, at that time he insisted that Nithyananda establish a trust of which he wanted to be a member. "But he turned angry and said I could not be a trustee. That is when I realised something was amiss," Shetty said.
High Court seeks details of arrest
The High Court on Wednesday directed the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) to submit detail statements regarding his arrest in Himachal Pradesh by the State police.
Justice Arali Nagaraj, who heard the matter directed the state government to file a statement regarding the arrest, the grounds under which he has been arrested and status of the investigation.
K N Yogappa, Superintendent of Police of CID, who is the investigating officer confirmed the news of Nithyananda's arrest saying that he was arrested by CID police in Himachal Pradesh at 1.30 pm on Wednesday.
H S Chandrmouli, Nithyananda's counsel submitted that there is no case against the petitioner and the police had falsely implicated his name in the offense. “ There has been no progress in this investigation,” he said.
Seeking an adjournment, the counsel said that he has to seek instruction from his client in connection with the case. The matter has been adjourned to Friday.