Published on: 06 November 2022 at 21:48 IST
The Madras High Court stated that had it known that a chargesheet had already been submitted in the case against Godman Shiva Sankar Baba, it would not have dismissed the sexual harassment claim.
The statement was made after the State government, through defense lawyer Hasan Mohammad Jinnah, informed single-judge Justice RN Manjula that the State had argued that the chargesheet had already been filed by the Crime Branch when the court was hearing arguments on the quashing of the first information report (FIR).
Justice Manjula then said that such submission had escaped her attention somehow at the time.
The sitting judge said that,“If I had known that the chargesheet was filed I would not have quashed it,”
The Court ordered Shiv Shankar Baba to file his response statement while it examined the records to see if the chargesheet had been filed or not.
The next hearing will take place on November 15.
The Court was considering a petition from the Tamil Nadu government to review a judgement from October 17 that invalidated the FIR Shiv Sankar Baba had filed in a sexual harassment case.
Due to a “technical flaw,” the court dismissed the FIR against the godman.
The woman filed her complaint in 2021, despite the fact that the allegations of sexual harassment were serious in nature, and the State failed to request redemption for this delay by filing an application for an extension of the statute of limitations under the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) at the time the FIR was filed.
Hence, the Court said that, “Though the allegations made by the second respondent is serious in nature, because of the absence of any petition under Section 473 Cr.P.C. to condone the delay filed along with the complainant, the case becomes barred by limitation.”
“In the said circumstances, I feel that the investigation cannot serve any fruitful purpose and for the reasons of technical flaw, the FIR is liable to be quashed,”
The State then filed the present plea to have the order reversed.
According to the State’s plea, which called his case “exceptional”, as Shiva Sankar Baba was a repeat offender who sexually harassed or attacked at least six kids at a residential school he ran, as well as two parents of his students, including the complainant.
Additionally, the authorities said that the “godman” frequently targeted pupils from economically weaker sections, or those with single parents.
The State counsel argued that the complainant in the case was not informed before the FIR was dismissed during the mentioning of the plea last week.
Further it was contended that several Supreme Court judgements have held in the past that the “limitation bar” could not be considered as the only ground for quashing of an FIR.