Impotency to Consensual Sex: Nithyananda Takes U-turn in Rape Case

On Friday, 16 March, self-styled godman Nithyananda's counsel VC Nagesh told the Karnataka High Court that the rape case filed against him by a woman in 2010, was actually a case of consensual sex and not rape.

VC Nagesh told the court that the 'victim had consensual sex with Nithyananda'.

The survivor, who was a former member of Nithyananda’s cult, had accused him of raping her during her stay at his ashram in Karnataka’s Bidadi.

The new twist was offered by the counsel as the court was hearing Nithyananda’s petition challenging the Ramanagaram court's order to frame charges against him.

However, this defence by Nityananda is a clear departure from his earlier claim in court. In 2010, when the complaint was filed against Nithyananda, he had told the Criminal Investigation Department sleuths that he was impotent.

He managed to evade the investigators for two years and finally in 2012, the Supreme Court ordered a potency test to be conducted on Nithyananda.

The potency test was to be conducted on 30 June 2012 at Bengaluru’s Victoria Hospital. However, Nithyananda had fled to Kailash. The potency test was conducted only two years later. In November 2014, the CID finally submitted the results of the potency test to the Ramanagara sessions court where it was proved that Nithyananda’s claims of impotency were false.

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For someone who has changed his tune every step of the way, the self-styled godman’s lawyer has now said that the survivor did have “consensual sex” with Nithyananda.

“This is a totally contradictory stand. Initially, he said he was impotent, then when the test proved he was not, he is now changing his stand. This obviously has to go to trial if the truth has to be determined”, the survivor’s counsel, Ashwin Vaish said.

Not only taking a contradictory stance, Nithyanada’s counsel also attacked the survivor’s character in the High Court by making allegations about the victims sexual history.

VC Nagesh said that the survivor “had a history of having multiple sexual partners and that she also suffers from a communicable sexually transmitted disease”.

"The complainant is an NRI, she is well educated and had lived in Nithyananda’s ashram for a few years. She had consensual sex with Nithyananda because she wanted to gain spiritual bliss. Besides, the sessions court did not take into consideration important evidence collected by the investigation officer." - VC Nagesh

Nithyananda’s counsel argued that statements of 48 witnesses were not looked at by the sessions court while passing the judgement.

“The trial court only looked into those evidence that the prosecution chose to state its case. Elementary fairness is the hallmark of justice, which was denied to my client,” he added.

Apart from Nithyananda, the other accused in the case are Nithya Bhakthananda, Nithya Sachidananda, Nithya Sadananda, Nithya Sachidananda and Jamuna Rani. These five accused, who are his disciples, have also moved the High Court seeking discharge from the case.

“Nithyananda did not cooperate when the medical examination was to be conducted which is a requirement for the investigation. He moved the court when there was strong evidence against him. This is a delaying tactic,” Ashwin Vaish, the prosecution’s lawyer said.

According to lawyer Ahika Ramalingam, the Evidence Act does not permit the defence to bring up the sexual or medical history of the survivor in court.

“It is common for the defence to attack the victim’s character in most rape cases. It is up to the prosecution to prove that the instance was rape. However, it is shocking to note that the victim is not allowed to implead as her testimony is crucial. However, it looks like the defence is trying to prejudice the court. Until 2003, it was legal to bring up the sexual history of the victim during the trial and court hearings. But after the 2003 Amendment to the Evidence Act, this clause was removed. The victim’s sexual and medical history are irrelevant to the proceedings. This is unlawful,” Akhila said.

(This article was first published on The News Minute and has been republished with permission.)

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