Shivamurthy Sharanaru was jailed on 1 September, 2022, having been accused of sexually assaulting minor girls from a matha-run school.
POCSO and rape-accused Murugha Matha head pontiff Shivamurthy Sharanaru reached the Viraktha Matha in Davangere city around 1.30 pm on Thursday, 16 November.
He had been released from the Chitradurga district prison on conditional bail earlier in the day, but did not return to his own matha.
That was because one of the bail conditions imposed on him was that he should not enter the Chitradurga district. He was also sternly warned not to tamper with evidence or influence any witness in the case.
The seer headed for the darshan of the chief pontiff of Davangere’s Viraktha Matha and then addressed a few devotees who had come there to visit him and inquire about his health and well-being, sources said.
The head pontiff of Viraktha Matha maintained that no one would make any comment about the case since the matter was sub-judice.
Shivamurthy Sharanaru had been lodged in the Chitradurga district prison since 1 September last year after he was booked under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act and other sections of the law for the sexual assault of minor girls at the Murugha Matha.
Hostel warden Rashmi, attached to a school run by the matha, was accused of abetting the crimes and was also arrested and jailed.
There was a second zero FIR registered by the Mysuru district’s Nazarbad police based on a complaint filed by a 38-year-old assistant cook at the Matha, who accused the seer of sexually abusing her two minor daughters.
The first FIR, which was also a zero FIR, was registered at Mysuru’s Nazarbad Police Station based on a complaint from two minor girls studying in Standard 10 at a matha-run school. The case was subsequently transferred to the Chitradurga Rural Police Station, where the cops proceeded with the investigation.
Shivamurthy Sharanaru was granted conditional bail by the Karnataka High Court in the first FIR on 8 November — 14 months after he was lodged in the Chitradurga district prison. The pontiff was released from the prison on Wednesday.
The one-week delay for the seer’s release from jail was due to the execution of court formalities for the bail pertaining to the second FIR, court sources told South First.
In the first FIR, the seer was granted conditional bail on a personal bond of ₹2 lakh and two sureties for similar amounts.
According to the court rules, legal procedures and formalities have to be followed for every FIR registered, and thus the delay of seven days for the seer’s release, explained the court sources.
Meanwhile, one of the founder members of the NGO Odanadi Seva Samsthe, Parashuram ML, told South First: “Bail is everyone’s right. However, in this case, it is a total failure on the part of the law enforcement agency that they have granted the benefit of the doubt in the second FIR after the seer’s associates filed a counter-case against the cook who was the complainant.”
He added: “Though the high court quashed the case filed by seer’s associates, the police gave the benefit of the doubt for the second case and did not file any objections.”