New Delhi (Agency):
In a significant development in Karnataka, Shivamurthy Sharana, the pontiff of the Chitradurga Murugharajendra Bruhan Math, was arrested on Monday following a non-bailable warrant issued in a second Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act case. This arrest comes just days after his release from jail on bail in a separate POCSO case.
The Second Additional Sessions Judge B K Komala in Chitradurga issued the warrant and directed the police to produce Shivamurthy Sharana before the court by Tuesday. The seer had been in custody since September 1, 2022, for the first POCSO case and was released on bail on November 16. However, his freedom was short-lived due to the emergence of this second case.
The High Court, while granting bail in the first POCSO case, had imposed several conditions on Shivamurthy Sharana. These included a prohibition from entering Chitradurga district until the investigation’s completion, a personal bond of Rs two lakh, and two sureties for similar amounts. Additionally, he was warned against tampering with evidence or influencing witnesses.
The first complaint, leading to the initial POCSO case against the pontiff and four others, was filed by ‘Odanadi Seva Samsthe’, an NGO in Mysuru. It alleged sexual harassment of minor students at the mutt’s school and hostel in Chitradurga. This case, initially registered by the Nazarabad police in Mysuru under POCSO and the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, was later transferred to the Chitradurga Rural police station.
The second POCSO case, resulting in the recent arrest, was filed by the mother of two minor girls. She alleged that her daughters, along with two other minor girls, were sexually assaulted by Shivamurthy Sharana between 2019 and 2022 while residing in the hostel. The complaint also implicated junior seer Basavaditya and others, including Paramashivaiah, Gangadhar, Mahalinga, and Karibasappa, in the scandal. Notably, Paramashivaiah’s name was later dropped from the charge sheet in the second case.