On Friday, a Special Court here acquitted Ex-Union Minister Chinmayanand in connection with a case of sexual harassment of a law student.

In a separate case, the Court acquitted the law student & 5 others accused of blackmailing Chinmayannand & trying to extort Rs 5 crore from him. All the accused, including the law student & the minister, are out on bail & were present in court as the orders were issued.

Lucknow District Government Counsel Manoj Tripathi said that “Special Judge Pawan Kumar Rai acquitted Chinmayanand from all charges against him. In another case, the Court acquitted the law student & five others. The accused of both cases have been acquitted for want of evidence”.

The Court examined more than twenty prosecution witnesses in each of the 2 cases. During the trial, the prosecution declared the student hostile after she disowned her statement to the court. She alleged to have levelled allegations against the former union minister “under pressure by miscreants”. However, she did not identify the miscreants.

In the case against Chinmayanand, no defence witness was examined. However, one defence witness was examined in the case against the woman, said Govt counsel Abhay Tripathi.

The woman studied in a law college in Shahjahanpur run by a Trust set up by Chinmayanand. According to the prosecution, in Aug 2019 the 23-year-old woman went missing after uploading a video on Facebook in which she blamed an “influential sant-politician” for harassing & destroying the lives of many girls in her college. She did not name anyone, but her father alleged that she was referring to Chinmayanand, who is also president of the college’s management committee.

The same month, Chinmayanand’s advocate lodged an FIR in Shahjahanpur stating that the former BJP MP had received a threat message on his cellphone. According to the lawyer, the caller demanded Rs 5 crore & threatened to malign Chinamayanand’s image if the demand was not fulfilled. The sender also claimed to possess a video that he warned would go viral.

The UP Govt then formed a Special Investigation Team (SIT) to investigate the two cases. On Aug 30, 2019, the police found the girl in Rajasthan along with a youth. The following month, the SIT arrested Chinmayanand from his ashram based on the allegation that he sexually assaulted the law student.

On Sept 25, the SIT arrested the woman from her home for allegedly trying to extort the money from the Ex-Minister. They also arrested her associates, who were allegedly found involved in the blackmail incident.

On Nov 6, 2019, the SIT filed charge-sheets in the 2 cases in a local court in Shahjahanbpur. Except for two men, Dharmendra Pratap Singh Rathore & Ajeet Singh, all other accused were arrested & sent to jail. 

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