No bail, some charges cleared: Here’s where Murugha Matha case stands 6 months after seer’s arrest

Chief pontiff Shivamurthy Sharanaru and two others have been cleared of charges filed under SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act.

ByBellie Thomas

Published Mar 23, 2023 | 12:00 PMUpdatedMar 24, 2023 | 9:04 AM

Shivamurthy Sharanaru, the POCSO and rape accused seer. (Sourced)

It has been more than six months since the chief pontiff of Sri Jagadguru Murugharajendra Brihanmatha — or Sri Murugha Matha — in Chitradurga was arrested on multiple charges, including alleged sexual abuse of minor girls.

The chief pontiff, Shivamurthy Murugha Sharanaru, was arrested on 1 September last year and has been lodged in the Chitradurga district prison.

Besides Shivamurthy, the warden of the Matha-run hostel, Rashmi, junior pontiff Basavadithya, Matha secretary Paramashivaiah, and an advocate, Gangadharaiah, were also arrested.

Three different FIRs  — all naming the pontiff as the first accused — were filed. South First spoke to special public prosecutors to know the status of the three cases.

Cleared of charges filed under SC/ST Act

Special Public Prosecutor KB Nagaveni said that the first three accused persons, including the pontiff, have been discharged of charges filed under the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989 (Section 3 sub-clause (2) (w) (i & ii).

Murugha mutt seer Shivamurthy Sharanaru is currently in judicial custody. (Supplied)

Murugha Matha seer Shivamurthy Sharanaru is currently in judicial custody. (Supplied)

The section pertains to fabricating evidence against persons belonging to Scheduled Castes or Scheduled Tribes. It was included in the initial FIR filed on 26 August, 2022, naming Sharanaru, Rashmi, and Paramashivaiah as the first three accused.

“I am yet to get a copy of the court order discharging the first accused (the pontiff),” she said, adding that the three accused have also been discharged of charges of trafficking under IPC Section 372 — selling minor(s) for purposes of prostitution.

Rashmi and Paramashivaiah, are the second and third accused in the case. “The case is now at the ‘framing of charges’ stage, where the charges will be read out to the accused in the court,” Nagaveni told South First.

“There was a hearing for ‘framing of charges’ on Tuesday, 21 March, but the court adjourned the case to 30 March,” she added.

Court to hear POCSO case on 27 March

Meanwhile, Special Public Prosecutor GR Jagadeesh in the POCSO case — mentioned in the second FIR — came up for hearing on Monday, 20 March.

Chitradurga Matha seer Shivamurthy Muruga Sharanaru. (South First)

Chitradurga Matha seer Shivamurthy Sharanaru. (South First)

The second FIR was registered on 13 October, 2022, based on a complaint by a single mother, who was employed as a cook at the Matha.

She alleged that Sharanaru had sexually abused four girls, including her two daughters. The girls were residing in the Matha-run hostel.

Seven people have been arraigned in the case: Shivamurthy Sharanaru, Rashmi, Basavadithya, Paramashivaiah, Gangadharaiah, and two others, Mahalinga and Karibasappa, who reportedly guarded the door of the pontiff’s room, while the girls were allegedly abused.

“The defence sought time and the court adjourned the case to 27 March for ‘framing of charges’. The defence had also requested the court an order to shift the accused (Sharanaru) to the district hospital for treatment. But the court directed the jail authorities to provide the necessary medical aid in the prison itself,” Jagadeesh told South First.

Other accused persons get bail

While Shivamurthy Sharanaru, Rashmi, and Paramashivaiah are still in jail, the others are out on bail. The three accused had unsuccessfully applied for bail twice in the past six months, police sources told South First.

Jagadguru Murugharajendra Matha, Chitradurga. File Photo. (

Jagadguru Murugharajendra Matha, Chitradurga. File Photo. (

While a special fast-track court is hearing the POCSO case, the other alleged offences — charges filed under Juvenile Justice Act and IPC, including rape — are being tried separately, court sources told South First.

The police filed a third case under the Juvenile Justice Act against the pontiff and the Matha administration members on 18 October, 2022.

The case was based on charges levelled by a Child Welfare Committee (CWC) member. The complainant alleged that the Matha did not reveal about two minor girls — aged 16 and four — living on its premises.

The Matha administration did not inform the CWC about the two minors. The girls were not even enrolled with the Madilu Adoption Centre, it was alleged.

Intriguing twist in the tale

After the three cases were registered, Basavaprabhu Swamiji, who was anointed as the temporary head of the Matha, lodged a counter-complaint in November last year.

Basavaprabhu Swami

Basavaprabhu Swami. (Supplied)

The complaint was against ex-MLA and the Matha’s ex-administrator SK Basavarajan, Basavarajendran, the mother of two girls who were allegedly abused, and members of Odanadi, a Mysuru-based non-profit that has been providing legal aid to the minors.

They were accused of criminal conspiracy, extortion, and trafficking of minor girls.

The stand-in pontiff complained after an audio clip containing a conversation purportedly between Basavarajendran and a minor girl had surfaced.

The teacher allegedly tried to coax the girl into lodging a complaint against Sharanaru. He was terminated after the about 15-minute audio had gone public.

The case took an intriguing twist when the Chitradurga rural police arrested all three, including the woman, in the case.

Two charge sheets, 694 pages

The police had filed two preliminary charge sheets, each having 347 pages, in the first two cases against Shivamurthy Sharnaru and others on 27 October, 2022.

Shivamurthy Murugha Sharanaru, Chief Pontiff of Jagadguru Murugharajendra Matha, Chitradurga. File Photo. (

Shivamurthy Sharanaru, Chief Pontiff of Jagadguru Murugharajendra Matha, Chitradurga. File Photo. (

The charge sheets mentioned instances of sexual abuse of minors at the Akkamahadevi Vasathi Nilaya, the Matha-run hostel for girls, and Sharanaru’s rampant use of alcohol and drugs.

The police also accused the Matha of operating an illegal adoption racket.

Soon after the charge sheets were filed, Basavaprabhu appointed a retired judge, SB Vastramath, as the administrator, fearing a government takeover of the Matha-run institution and its assets.

“The Matha’s committee has appointed a retired judge, SB Vasthramath, as the administrator of the Matha-run educational institutions, the Vidya Peeta, and I have taken over the Matha’s administration,” Basavaprabhu told South First in mid-December last year.

However, the state government appointed a retired IAS officer, PS Vastrad, as the Matha’s administrator on 13 December, 2022, despite opposition from Basavaprabhu and his associates. Later, the in-charge pontiff challenged the appointment of Vastrad in the Karnataka High Court. The court has reserved its judegment.

“The Karnataka High Court has reserved its judgement, and we hope that it will rule in our favour,” Basavaprabhu told South First.

“The government-appointed administrator is not helping the Matha or bailing out the head pontiff, Shivamurthy Sharanaru. He is not even paying the advocates’ fees. We have been taking loans to pay the advocates representing the Swamiji,” he added.