Seer getting fair trial in rape case, says HC

Raghaveshwara Bharathi, the head of Ramachandrapura Mutt who has been booked for rape, is being given a dignified and fair trial, the High Court of Karnataka observed on Monday.

Justice A N Venugopala Gowda made these observations while hearing a petition filed by the seer against the prosecution’s demand to conduct a medical examination on him.

Senior counsel Ashok Haranahalli, appearing for the pontiff, expressed reservations about the medical examination and asserted that the prosecution had not mentioned the kind of tests it would conduct on the seer. What if during the medical examination, the counsel argued, the seer is forced to undergo certain unapproved tests and thus his fundamental right to protection of life and personal liberty under Article 21 of the Constitution of India is violated.

The bench observed that Article 21 provides protection to those who follow law and not to those who violate it. Counsels for the seer have been questioning the constitutional validity of sections 53 and 53(A) of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC), citing various Supreme Court orders. The sections deal with the medical examination of a rape accused.

The seer’s counsel also complained to the bench about media reports and claimed that the investigating officer had been sharing details of the investigation with reporters, thus “affecting” the case. To this, the bench observed that the media had its own competition to which it was catering. Justice Gowda then asked whether the investigating officer had called any press conference and briefed the media about the investigation. The investigating officer is responsible to ascertain the truth in the case, the judge observed.

Justice Gowda observed that it was quite normal for an accused to initially blame the complainant, then the investigating officer, then the prosecution and even the bench and the High Court. The court has completed the hearing of the seer’s arguments. It will hear the prosecution, represented by the Advocate General, on Thursday.

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