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HC asks woman to move appropriate bench over extortion case

HC asks woman to move appropriate bench over extortion case

Allahabad (UP), Sep 23 (PTI) The Allahabad High Court on Monday refused to grant relief to the law student who sought a stay on her possible arrest in an extortion case filed by BJP leader Swami Chinmayanand, who is accused of raping her. A two-judge bench, comprising Justice Manoj Mishra and Justice Manju Rani Chauhan, passed the order while hearing a petition filed by the 23-year-old woman, who studied at a college in Shahjahanpur, Uttar Pradesh, run by Chinmayanand's ashram. "If the victim wants any relief in this regard, she may file a fresh petition before an appropriate bench," the court said. "This bench was nominated to the case only for monitoring the investigation in this matter and has no jurisdiction to pass order on stay of arrest." The woman had sought a stay on her possible arrest after a special investigation team (SIT) probing the case also arrested three other men on charges of trying to extort money from Chinmayanand and named an unidentified woman as a suspect in the same case. The former Union minister was arrested on Friday and sent to 14 days' judicial custody. He has been booked under sections 354 D (stalking), 342 (wrongful confinement) and 506 (criminal intimidation) of the Indian Penal Code. But, instead of Section 376 (rape), the 72-year-old has been booked under Section 376 C, which is usually applied in cases where a person abuses his position to "induce or seduce" a woman under his charge to have "sexual intercourse not amounting to the offence of rape". If proved, a rape charge can lead to punishment of up to life imprisonment, while someone convicted under Section 376C can be jailed for between five and 10 years. The woman had claimed that the police were trying to weaken the case against the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party politician. The high court on Monday expressed satisfaction with the progress report, which was submitted by the SIT in a sealed cover. The bench found that the investigation was going on in a proper way, adding that even the woman had not made any allegation in her application regarding irregularities in the investigation. It fixed October 22 for the probe team to submit another report. The woman was also present in the court room. The bench also did not accept a second prayer by the woman, who sought permission to record a rectified/fresh statement under Section 164 of the Code Of Criminal Procedure as she said her earlier statement made before the magistrate was not proper. The court observed that there was no allegations against the magistrate concerned nor any provision had been shown for recording a rectified statement of the woman. According to the court, the only allegation made was that the woman's signature was obtained only on the last page instead on each page of her statement. The bench said there was also no any allegation against a woman, who was present while the student's statement was being recorded. It added that the woman was apparently present in the chamber so that student may feel comfortable during the recording of the statement The student has alleged she was raped by Chinmayanand for a over a year. She first mentioned harassment by Chinmayanand in a video clip uploaded on social media last month. The SIT was formed after the Supreme Court had on September 2 taken suo motu cognizance of the case and directed the high court to monitor the investigation and about protection to the family members of the woman. PTI CORR RAJHMB