Rape of minors: Murugha mutt seer despatched to 3-day police custody; hostel warden additionally held

A court in Karnataka’s Chitradurga district on Friday sent the head seer of Karnataka’s influential Murugha mutt, Shivamurthy Sharanaruto three-day police custody in a rape case involving two minors.

Shivamurthy, who heads the Jagadguru Murugharajendra Vidyapeetha, was arrested on Thursday night, a week after being booked for rape and under the POCSO Act on the complaint of two minors who stayed at a school hostel that the mutt runs. The hostel was also arrested on Friday and a court sent her to judicial custody.

Police approached additional district and sessions court seeking custody of the seer who was sent to jail after his arrest on Thursday night. When judge BK Komala checked with prison officials, she was told that the pontiff was hospitalized as he complained of chest pain.

Taking note that she was not informed of seer’s shifting from jail to hospital, the judge asked the jail superintendent to appear before the court. In the afternoon, the jail superintendent appeared and said that the pontiff needed to be shifted to a hospital in Bengaluru. Since the jail superintendent did not furnish any documents regarding the seer’s health condition, the judge asked the jail authorities to produce him.

Around 4.05 pm, Shivamurthy was brought to the court where he broke down. The judge handed him over to the police for three days with directions to monitor his health condition.

Shivamurthy will be produced before the court at 11am on September 5.

The pontiff was again taken to the district government hospital. Sources in the police said he will be questioned after getting a go ahead from the doctors.

The warden is accused of number 2 in the case. A police officer said the two girls had complained about the warden beating them up whenever they raised the issue of their sexual assault.

Chitradurga district police had questioned the warden on Thursday, and formally arrested her on Friday.

The Mysuru police had filed a case after the minors told members of the state Child Welfare Committee that they were sexually assaulted between January 1, 2019 and June 6, 2022. The case was later transferred to Chitradurga district police.

Separately, the warden had filed a complaint against former JD(S) MLA Basavarajan and his wife Sowbhagya, alleging that they had kidnapped the minors and also harassed her. A court granted bail to the couple on Thursday.

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