The Karnataka high court on Friday granted a week’s time to the advocate representing the survivors in the Shivamurthy Muruga Sharanaru rape case to file objections to the Lingayat seer’s claim on the validity of the case filed on their behalf.

Next hearing in the case will be on November 4.

The pontiff has been in custody since September 1 in the case under provisions of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act. Two girls studying in a school run by Muruga Mutt in Chitradurga district had accused the former mutt chief of sexually assault.

In the bail plea filed on the pontiff’s behalf, the legality of the case filed on the girls’ behalf has been questioned. The matter was heard by the single-judge bench of justice Srinivas Harish Kumar.

Counsel representing the seer, Swamini Ganesh Mohanambal, argued that a petitioner identified as Mani who goes by one name has filed the ‘vakalat’ (case) on behalf of the girls claiming to be the guardian of the two children but there are no documents to show that the alleged survivors’ consent to the ‘vakalat’.

The HC, therefore, granted a week to the survivor’s counsel to file a written objection to this argument and adjourned the case.

Hours before this, Chitradurga police conducted searches at the mutt premises. On Wednesday, the investigation officer and Chitradurga rural circle inspector Balachandra Naik had visited the Muruga mutt along with survivors but had to return as the mutt authorities said they have no keys to the room.

On the same day, survivors who had filed the second FIR went to Chitradurga from Mysuru and recorded statements under Crpc 164 before the additional sessions court magistrate. They also filed a police complaint.

Earlier, the sessions court has postponed the hearing of the anticipatory bail application of the seer’s assistant Mahalinga and cook Karibasappa, who are the sixth and seventh accused respectively in the second Pocso case registered against Sharanaru on September 13.

On Wednesday, the Karnataka police filed a 694-page charge sheet against Sharanaru before a local court. While this is an interim charge sheet, a detailed one would be filed as the investigation progresses. Filed by investigation officer Anil Kumar, the charge sheet contains charges against the second accused, ladies hostel warden Rashmi and the mutt secretary and the fourth accused Paramashivaiah.

A police official said that they were supposed to file a charge sheet before October 30 and hence, they have submitted an interim one. As per the charge sheet, lack of evidence has been citied against the third accused, a junior pontiff, and the fifth accused Gangadharaiah

A case has been registered against the accused under the Indian Penal Code (IPC), the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (Pocso) Act, Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, Religious Institutions (Prevention of Misuse) Act and the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act.

By Shadab

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