Tainted godman Nithyananda freed on bail

Jun 16, 2012, 02:29 IST | IANS

Tainted godman Swami Nithyananda, who has been accused by at least five former women devotees of sexually abusing them in his ashram, walked free out of Mysore jail late Friday after he was granted bail in the evening by a local court, a police official said.

"On presenting two sureties of Rs.100,000 each as personal bond to the jail authorities, Nithyananda was set free around 9.30 p.m., as a special case though the jail manual does not permit releasing prisoners after 6 p.m.," Mysore police commissioner K.L. Sudhir told IANS.

Earlier, Ramanagara district executive magistrate Sriram Reddy, who granted the bail, directed the prison authorities to release Nithyananda Saturday after furnishing the personal bond for the surety amount. Ramanagara is about 40km from here.

"Nithyananda has been set free Friday night itself for security reasons and to prevent any untoward incident Saturday. We have given him police escort up to border with Tamil Nadu as he wanted to go to Madurai with a group of his devotees," Sudhir said.

After stepping out of jail, a smiling Nithyananda got into an Innova car, waving to prison officials and policemen outside and avoided interacting with the waiting media personnel.

Police took the controversial guru into preventive custody late Thursday after the magistrate remanded him to a day's judicial custody on the grounds that his presence in his ashram at Bidadi, about 30km from Bangalore, would lead to breach of peace and law and order problem due to public anger and resentment against him.

The tainted godman was lodged in Mysore prison, about 150km from here, late Thursday.

The guru had been accused by at least five former women devotees of sexually abusing them in his ashram over a period of time under the pretext of taking them into trance through spiritual (tantric) exercises and indulging in other unlawful acts.

Swami was earlier arrested in April 2010 at Solan in Himachal Pradesh after Tamil news channels aired a video-footage of his alleged sexual acts with a South Indian actress (Ranjitha) in March 2010.

After vanishing from his 'Dhaynapeetam' ashram June 9 and hiding at Madurai in Tamil Nadu for five days, Nithyananda suddenly appeared in the district court Wednesday for bail in a related case filed against him by a Kannada newschannel for causing hurt and criminal intimidation of its reporter June 7 at a media conference he convened to refute the rape charges.

The local news channel televised the charges levelled by Aarti Rao, a former devotee of Swami, who currently lives in the US and other former devotees in a series of interviews since June 3.

Though district sessions judge Komala granted Swami bail Thursday after declining to hear his bail plea Wednesday, police arrested him under sections 151 and 107 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) and sought a day's judicial remand.

The Karnataka High Court granted Swami bail in June 2010 after he remained in jail for over 50 days.

"We have challenged the arrest and judicial custody of Nithyananda by the local police as he had not committed any crime or violated any law. Threat to his life and fears of his presence in the ashram causing public disorder is baseless," Swami's lawyer Muddu Malai asserted.

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