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Allahabad HC refuses to stay law student's arrest in extortion case

Allahabad HC refuses to stay law students arrest in extortion case

Allahabad (UP): The Allahabad High Court on Monday refused to grant relief to the law student who sought a stay on her possible arrest in an extortion case filed by BJP leader Swami Chinmayanand, who is accused of raping her.

A two-judge bench, comprising Justice Manoj Mishra and Justice Manju Rani Chauhan, passed the order while hearing a petition filed by the 23-year-old woman, who studied at a college in Shahjahanpur, Uttar Pradesh, run by Chinmayanand's ashram.

"If the victim wants any relief in this regard, she may file a fresh petition before an appropriate bench," the court said. "This bench was nominated to the case only for monitoring the investigation in this matter and has no jurisdiction to pass order on stay of arrest."

The woman had sought a stay on her possible arrest after a special investigation team (SIT) probing the case also arrested three other men on charges of trying to extort money from Chinmayanand and named an unidentified woman as a suspect in the same case. The former Union minister was arrested on Friday and sent to 14 days' judicial custody. He has been booked under sections 354 D (stalking), 342 (wrongful confinement) and 506 (criminal intimidation) of the Indian Penal Code.

But, instead of Section 376 (rape), the 72-year-old has been booked under Section 376 C, which is usually applied in cases where a person abuses his position to "induce or seduce" a woman under his charge to have "sexual intercourse not amounting to the offence of rape". If proved, a rape charge can lead to punishment of up to life imprisonment, while someone convicted under Section 376C can be jailed for between five and 10 years. The woman had claimed that the police were trying to weaken the case against the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party politician. The HC on Monday expressed satisfaction with the progress report, which was submitted by the SIT in a sealed cover. The bench found that the investigation was going on in a proper way, adding that even the woman had not made any allegation in her application regarding irregularities in the investigation.

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