A special court trying MPs and MLAs in Lucknow on Friday acquitted former Bharatiya Janata Party MP Chinmayanand in a sexual assault case involving a law student in Uttar Pradesh, the Hindustan Times reported.
“The court has discharged Swami Chinmayanand from all charges,” said Om Singh, the lawyer who was representing Chinmayanand in court. Special Judge PK Rai said that the prosecution could not prove its case beyond reasonable doubt, according to The Times of India.
The court also acquitted the student and her colleagues of charges of attempting to extort Chinmayanand of Rs 5 crore. The former Union minister had lodged a case of extortion against them, but the court said it could not find any evidence.
The court noted that all the witnesses had turned hostile in both cases.
In October, the 23-year-old law student had disowned her own statement before the special court. The woman denied that she had made any allegations against Chinmayanand.
In August 2019, the woman had gone missing soon after posting a video detailing her alleged ordeal at the hands of Chinmayanand. Although she did not mention anyone, her father named Chinmayanand in a missing persons complaint. The police then booked Chinmayanand on kidnapping charges, and watered down sexual assault charges, but not rape.
On October 8, the Supreme Court had refused to allow Chinmayanand to access a copy of the woman’s earlier statement implicating him. A top court bench of Justices UU Lalit, Vineet Saran and S Ravindra Bhat set aside the Allahabad High Court’s order to let Chinmayanand have the statement that the woman gave before the magistrate.
The Supreme Court had in November 2019 imposed a stay on the High Court’s order. The complainant had argued that giving Chinmayanand access to her statement before filing the chargesheet was against the law and would have a far-reaching effect in the case.
On February 5, 2020, Chimayanand was released from Shahjahanpur prison in Uttar Pradesh, two days after the Allahabad High Court granted him bail.
In his bail order, Allahabad High Court Justice Rahul Chaturvedi said the case was a “complete matter of quid pro quo”, and claimed the woman’s conduct was “astonishing” and she had “tried to blackmail him for ransom”. He added that a “girl, whose virginity is at stake, not uttering a single word to her own parent or before the court” highlighted the “ingeniousness of the prosecution’s story”.
The complainant and three of her friends had been granted bail from the High Court in December in an extortion case filed on the basis of Chinmayanand’s complaint.