The Extraordinary Slowness of the Wheels of Justice in the Chinmayanand Case

Now that Chinmayanand has not been charged with rape and the law student herself has been accused of extortion, a look at the beguiling turns of the Shahjahanpur case.

New Delhi: BJP leader Chinmayanad who was a former minister in the Uttar Pradesh government was arrested on Friday and booked under Sections 376C (sexual intercourse by a person in authority), 354 D (stalking), 342 (wrongful confinement) and 506 (criminal intimidation) of the Indian Penal Code.

The section which amounts to rape has not been applied and the law student who had accused Chinmayanad has herself been charged with extortion. 

The wheels of justice, as is often the case when the powerful are accused, have also ostensibly moved against the victim. Police progress in acting against her complaint has at best been reluctant and slow

The law student first accused Chinmayanand, who is the president of the college where she studies, on August 24 when she posted a video on Facebook alleging harassment and intimidation by a ‘top official’ of her college administration. She appealed to Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath and Prime Minister Narendra Modi to help her get justice. 

A day later, she went missing and her father lodged a complaint of abduction and sexual harassment. He named Chinmayanand in his complaint, making it clear that the BJP leader was the ‘top official’ that the woman had referred to.

In the meantime, Chinmayanand’s lawyer accused the woman and her father of trying to extort money from the leader. 

A screengrab from the video the woman posted. The photograph has been blurred to protect her identity.

On August 30, the student was found in Dausa in Rajasthan by the Uttar Pradesh police and brought to Shahjahanpur. 

A day later, the Supreme Court directed the Uttar Pradesh government to set up a special investigation team (SIT) to probe the allegations levelled against Chinmayanand by the woman and her father. It also suggested that the Allahabad high court monitor the probe. 

Chinmayanand then accused the woman of hatching a conspiracy to prevent his college from getting university status. 

On September 9, the woman spoke out and for the first time and accused the BJP leader of rape. Earlier, she had alleged sexual harassment. “Swami Chinmayanand raped me and even exploited me physically for one year,” she told reporters. 

Also read: Chinmayanand Case: Shahjahanpur Woman Gives Statement to Magistrate

The next day a video surfaced in which a naked Chinmayanand can be seen getting a massage from a woman. According to the law student, she recorded the video using a hidden camera. Chinmayanand was subsequently questioned by the SIT for seven hours. 

On September 14, the woman recorded her statement under Section 161 of the Code of Criminal Orocedure (CrPC). She alleged that Chinmayanand and his associates surreptitiously filmed her while she was bathing in the hostel. 

The video, according to the victim, was used to blackmail her. “He then threatened to make those videos viral and raped me on first occasion and also shot the sexual assault. Thereafter, I had no option other than to act on his instructions,” she said in her statement. 

She also submitted to the SIT a pen drive containing 43 videos which are incriminating according to her. Chinmayanand’s lawyer has said that the videos are fake and alleged that the woman’s intention is to use the videos to extort money from Chinmayanand. 

The BJP leader then developed a bout of diarrhoea and was admitted to a hospital. 

Also read: Parents of Woman Who Accused BJP’s Chinmayanand of Harassment Fear for Her Safety

Finally, Chinmayanad was arrested on Friday, almost a month after the survivor had made the allegation. But, even now the police has charged him under Section 376 C which does not amount to rape and carries a maximum sentence of ten years, instead of Section 376 which amounts to rape and carries a maximum of life imprisonment. 

Even though the victim has clearly stated in her statement that Chinmayanand had blackmailed and raped her, the police has chosen to not book him for rape. 

The victim has said that this is an attempt to weaken the case against the BJP leader. “This has played out exactly as I feared, there is no justice. I already told the SIT in detail how I was raped and yet Section 376 has not been applied. I do not know what the planning is behind Chinmayanand’s arrest. I am not happy with the SIT’s actions,” she said after Chinmayanand’s arrest. 

To add to her woes, she has also been charged with extortion by the Uttar Pradesh police. Although, she has not been named, she is referred to as ‘Miss A’ in a press release issued by the SIT. Three of her friends, who have been named in the FIR, have already been arrested by the police and sent to 14 days of judicial custody. 

They have been charged with trying to extort Rs 5 crore from Chinmayanand and also with disappearance of evidence, common intention and criminal intimidation. 

“This is an absolute travesty of justice. On the one hand, our complaint is not heard and now they have registered a case against us, who are the victims,” the woman’s father told The Wire

Meanwhile, according to the SIT, in custody the former minister confessed to ‘almost every allegation’ that has been levelled against him.