A court in Karnataka’s Chitradurga district on Tuesday denied bail to a seer of a Karnataka-based Lingayat seminary who has been accused of sexually assaulting minor girls, IANS reported.

Shivamurthy Murugha Sharanaru, the chief pontiff of the Jagadguru Murugarajendra Vidyapeetha Mutt in Chitradurga city, was booked under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act on August 27 after two school girls alleged that the seer sexually abused them for years during their stay at the seminary hostel.

He was arrested on September 1.

On Tuesday, Second Additional Sessions Judge BK Komala extended Sharanaru’s judicial custody till October 10. The judge passed a similar order for another accused person, a hostel warden named Rashmi.

Meanwhile, Lingayat leaders have called for a meeting on September 29 to discuss Sharanaru’s decision not to step down as the head of the Chitradurga mutt despite the allegations against him.

On September 2, the seer was also charged under the provisions of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act after it was found that one of the complainants was a Dalit.

In their complaints, the girls had told the police that Sharanaru would call them to his chambers on some pretext and sexually assault them. They alleged the seer had been assaulting one of them for the past three-and-a-half years and the others for the past one-and-a-half years.

The matter had come to light after the girls fled the hostel and approached a non-governmental organisation in Mysuru on August 26.