Another HC breather for pontiff

Last Updated 19 September 2014, 19:48 IST

The High Court on Friday extended till September 23, 2014, its earlier order that directed the police not to arrest Raghaveshwara Bharathi, the pontiff of Shri Ramachandrapura Mutt in Shimoga district, in a rape complaint filed by a female devotee. 

Justice K N Phaneendra directed the prosecution neither to arrest nor interrogate the pontiff until Tuesday after the State government sought more time to file objections to the petition by the swami.

The daughter of one of the swami’s devotees had made a complaint to the Banashankari police here that the seer had been sexually assaulting her mother since 2010.

She lodged the complained after receiving a letter from her mother who had written that she was arrested by police in Honnavar in Uttara Kannada district on a complaint by the Mutt. The Mutt alleged that the woman, the complainant’s mother, had
threatened musicians who were invited to perform in a function organised by it.

The complainant also claimed that the swami had warned her of dire consequences if she spoke the truth. The rape case was then transferred to the Girinagar police station. The trial court heard the matter and ordered the police to book the swami for rape. Accordingly, the police registered an FIR. 

The swami challenged it in the High Court, claiming that the rape complaint was nothing but an act of vengeance on him as the Mutt had went to the police against the said woman. He appealed to the court to squash the FIR against and stay the criminal proceedings. 

Welfare of rape victims

The High Court on Friday directed the State government and a group of women advocates to work on a scheme to ensure rape victims get compensation under various schemes through a single channel. 

The women advocates submitted to the court that the many government schemes for the welfare of rape victims were not disbursed under roof. They also submitted the list of schemes.

The advocates have moved the High Court stating that the Home Department had failed to properly implement a scheme which provides for compensation to rape victims, and a result, the funds allocated for the same had lapsed. 

The petitioners referred to information received under the RTI Act and said that the government had been allocating Rs two crore every year since 2012 to pay compensation to rape victims. 

But just Rs 25 lakh has been spent and the rest had thus lapsed. Their enquiries with the government revealed that several departments had schemes for victims of sexual assault but they were not available under one roof. 

They sought the court’s direction to appoint the Karnataka State Legal Services Authority (KSLSA) as nodal agency for co-ordinating various such schemes and ensure the funds are disbursed at the earliest. 

They also appealed that the police be directed to report incidents of sexual assault to the KSLSA within 24 hours of their reporting so that victims were given the necessary benefits. 

A division bench of Chief Justice D H Waghela and Justice Ashok B Hinchigeri directed the petitioners to formulate a scheme in this regard. It then directed the government to look into the list submitted by the petitioners and assist them in bringing out the scheme by approaching the authorities concerned. 

Footpath problems

The High Court on Friday directed the BBMP to find a solution to the footpath problems near Yeshwantpur railway station. 

Hearing a petition from the local residents seeking to clear encroachment on footpath on Railway Parallel Road at Yeshwantapur, a division bench comprising Chief Justice D H Waghela and Justice Ashok B Hinchigeri directed the Palike to come out with solutions by next date of hearing. The petitioners had moved the court seeking to clear the encroachment on the footpath by some of the vendors.

Official summoned

The High Court has directed the Principal Secretary, Home Department to appear before the Court in connection with a petition seeking to set up district level Police Complaint Authority.

During the hearing of a petition by Adarsh K G, a human rights activist, the Court found that the State Government has not responded to its 2013 order to constitute the authority and set up its district-level units.Justice Venugopala Gowda directed the Principal Secretary, Home Department to be present before the court during the next date of hearing.

(Published 19 September 2014, 19:48 IST)

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