In the order granting bail to former Union Minister and BJP leader Chinmayanand, the Allahabad High Court has made certain unusual observations which have the potential to pre-judge the criminal trial in the sexual exploitation case against him.
Justice Rahul Chaturvedi, who passed the bail order, said that "both used each other".
The judge made observations to the effect that the family members of the law student, who raised the complaint, were being benefited out of the accused Chinmayanand during the period of alleged exploitation.
It was further mentioned that the student had not made any complaint or "whisper" to her family members against the accused.
From this, the Court drew a "conclusion" that the case was a matter of mutual benefit (quid pro quo) and that the same was a result of conspiracy hatched with the "greed" to extract more.
In paragraph 31 of the order, it is stated :
"it is also noteworthy there are material on record where the family members of Miss "A" were being benefited out of the solipsistic behavior of the accused applicant. It is also noticeable that there is also nothing on record that during the period of the alleged atrocities committed upon Miss "A" she made any complaint or even any whisper to her family members against the accused applicant, therefore, at this juncture, this Court draws its conclusion that it was a complete matter of quid pro quo but over a span of time the greed for extracting "more", she along with her accomplices seems to have advanced for hatching a conspiracy against the applicant and tried to black mail him for ransom, through the obscenic video clips recorded by herself".
The complainant law student is facing a case of extortion on the allegation that she had attempted to blackmail Chinmayanand using the recorded visuals of the sexual encounters she had with him by using a spy camera. She was under custody in that case, and was granted bail by the High Court in December.
In paragraph 13 of the bail order, the Justice Chaturvedi observes that the student had sought the "patronage" and "benevolence" of Chinmayanand and was "sharing private moments with him" and had got "material benefits" from the accused.
The judge observes that "it is difficult to decipher who used whom" and remarks "it seems to be a case of quid pro quo".
As per Para 13 :
"What is mind boggling, disturbing and matter of concern is that a student of LL.M., i.e. Miss "A" comes into contact with the applicant, seeks and enjoys his 'patronage' and 'benevolence' as well as on her family members and in lieu of that she was said to be exploited physically by the applicant, keeps mum throughout the entire long period for almost 9-10 months. She never shared anything with anyone including her parents. On the other hand, during those dark period, on her own, purchased an spy-camera fitted goggles, from which she shot nude pictures and recorded videos of the accused, which were used by her in demanding the ransom money from the accused applicant, after blackmailing her. During the entire period of the alleged atrocities committed by the applicant, she was sharing private moments with the applicant, got her family member employed in the College and other material benefits from the applicant. There is nothing on record to show that she ever objected to or raised any protest or divulged anything adverse before the claimed incident. Therefore, it is difficult to decipher as to who has used whom ? It seems to be a matter of quid pro quo".
While discussing the reasons for granting bail as well, the Court observed :
"As pointed out earlier, that both the parties crossed their limits and at this stage it is very difficult to adjudicate as to who exploited whom?? In fact, both of them used each other".
The Court said that since the charge-sheet has already been filed by the police, there were lesser probabilities of tampering with evidence. Also, Chinmayanand is an octogenarian, suffering from old age ailments, observed the Court.
In this case, the Police has invoked Section 376C of Indian Penal Code, which is not the offence of rape but the offence of 'sexual intercourse by a person in authority'. The order stated that this offence is distinct from 'rape' under Section 376, and is punishable with a minimum imprisonment of five years, which can extend up to ten years.
Chinmayanand was arrested by the Supreme Court-appointed Special Investigation Team on September 30, 2019, and has been under custody ever since.
The Courts are not supposed to make observations on the merits of the criminal case while deciding a bail application, as settled by the Supreme Court in several precedents.
The judge adds at the end of the order that the trial court should not be swayed by the observations and said that the trial court "would apply its own judicial discretion and accused while adjudicating the trial of the instant case".
The Court also transferred the trial of both cases - sexual abuse case and extortion case - from Shajahanpur to Lucknow, considering that he is an "affluent giant robust personality of Shajahanpur".
Click here to download order