Gujarat HC gives anticipatory bail to Swami Shri Sachchidanand

By Rupang Bhatt, Ahmedabad, 7 February, 2012

The Gujarat High Court today gave anticipatory bail to central Gujarat based popular saint and legendary travel writer Swami Sachchidananda in Babu Mohania death case.

Swami Shri Sachchidanand had challenged Anand sessions court order of denying anticipatory bail to him.

It is well known story of yesteryears that Swami Sachchidananda had allegedly shot at one unidentified person in year 2006 from his weapon in self protection when a group of robbers entered in his Bhakti Niketan ashram in dark hours of night. The story was in prominent newspapers a day after that Swami had fired three rounds from his weapon, and the robbers fled away from Dantali ashram after firing.

Few days later it was claimed by others that the person injured from Swamiji’s bullet was Babu Mohania, a tribal man who died ultimately allegedly from Swamiji’s bullet.

This all happened at a time when Swami Sachchidanand had openly taken a stand against powerful Jayshree didi of Swadhyay Pariwar after Pankaj Trivedi’s brutal murder in Ahmedabad.

The Ashram episode of robbery came out in completely new version after few days, possibly with somebody powerful backing Dhanabhai Mohania, relative of one Babu Mohania an illiterate tribal who filed complaint against Swami and fought the case upto the Supreme Court. The version Dhanabhai Mohania submitted before the court creates a picture that tribals are beaten in Hindu ashram when they go to demand food!!!

Dhanabhai Punabhai Mohania filed complaint in Petlad court against Swamiji and others for the offenses punishable under Sections 302, 114 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 (hereinafter referred to as “IPC”) and under the provisions of the Arms Act and under the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989 (hereinafter referred to as “Atrocities Act”) which was registered as Criminal Inquiry Case No.5/2007.

It was alleged in the said complaint that uncle of the complainant Babubhai Malabhai Mohania was a labourer. On 17.07.2006, said Babubhai could not arrange for food for his children. He, therefore, went to Ashram of the petitioner hoping that he might find some food there. It was alleged that Swamiji’s four aides were present in the Ashram. When he asked for food, it was refused and he was insulted and pushed on the ground. Thereafter, there was a scuffle and Swamiji’s men started beating him. It is alleged that Babubhai also started attacking the said accused persons in self defence at which time accused Swamiji’s men shouted for accused Swamiji who came out with his revolver and fired injuring Babubhai near his right shoulder. That thereafter the said Babubhai ran away and went to Anand Hospital and thereafter, to Ahmedabad where he died. His wife, Mangiben performed his last rites. It is alleged that some three days thereafter, police had come to their house and and inquired about the place where Babubhai’s body was burnt. Village people had shown them the spot from where, from the burnt ashes with the help of a magnet, they had recovered a small iron pallet which the police had put in a packet and seized along with the bones. The complainant had thereafter gone to the police station on several occasions. However, his complaint was not being attended to. He, therefore, filed the impugned private complaint in the Court of learned JMFC, Petlad alleging that all the accused had committed offence punishable under Section 302 with 114 of the IPC and the Arms Act and the Atrocities Act.

But Petlad court had freed Swami Sachchidanand from all charges against him.

Learned Magistrate of Petlad recorded the statement of the complainant on verification on 04.01.2007. In the statement, complainant stated that when the dead body of Babubhai was brought home, he had seen a deep injury mark on the right side of the back portion. Wife of the deceased had told him about what had happened. He was told that after being injured deceased had gone to Anand and in the early morning he was shifted to Ahmedabad where he died. His body was brought to the native place in an ambulance. On 4.1.2007, learned Magistrate ordered Court inquiry under Section 202 of the CrPC. That the learned Magistrate examined several witnesses. Certain documents were also produced before him. He ultimately passed order dated 12.9.2007 and dismissed the complaint under Section 203 of the CrPC.

Wife of the Babu Mohania had told petitioner about what had happened. Petitioner Mohania was told that after being injured deceased had gone to Anand and in the early morning he was shifted to Ahmedabad where he died. His body was brought to the native place in an ambulance. Petlad Magistrate recorded statements of Mansang Veerchand Solanki, Ramilaben Navabhai Parmar, Parnambhai Punabhai Mohaniya, Mangiben Babubhai Mohania i.e wife of deceased and Rameshbhai Madhiyabhai Damor who claimed to be with the deceased at Dantali Ashram when the alleged incident took place.

Wife of deceased Babubhai had stated before the Petlad Court that she did not know exactly what incident had taken place. However, her husband had told her that he had received bullet injury. When he was being taken to her parents house near Ahmedabad, her husband had died. Thereupon his dead body was brought to the native place where his last rites were performed. Police had come and inquired about the incident. Further witness Rameshbhai Madhiyabhai Damor had stated before the Court that he was with the deceased on the date of incident. They had gone to Ashram and asked for food by knocking at the door. After opening the door, people of Ashram had insulted them and started beating up his brother-in-law i.e Babubhai Mohania. He had started shouting for help since people were beating up Babubhai at which point of time, Maharaj had fired from his gun on Babubhai who received bullet injury. He had thereafter, taken Babubhai out of the Ashram. He had gone to Anand, collected some money and brought him to Ahmedabad where Babubhai died in Rickshaw.

Petlad Magistrate came to the conclusion that evidence of witnesses was not reliable. He was of the opinion that except for witness Rameshbhai Madhiyabhai Damor, there was no other person present at Dantali Ashram with Babubhai when the alleged incident took place. He however discarded the evidence of Rameshbhai Madhiyabhai Damor finding it doubtful and not reliable. He was of the opinion that complainant had not stated in the complaint that Rameshbhai Madhiyabhai Damor was present at Dantali Ashram and evidence of Rameshbhai Madhiyabhai Damor therefore, cannot be relied upon. Learned Judge further observed that if the said witness had taken Babubhai to a Government hospital, his life could have been saved. He was therefore, of the opinion that due to negligence of this witness, Babubhai died. Learned Judge further opined that one who seeks equity must come with clean hands. He was of the opinion that the complainant had not come to the Court with clean hands.

Petitioner Dhanabhai Mohania challenged local court’s order in Gujarat High Court then after.

On 30th October, 2010, Gujarat High Court Justice Akil Kureshi directed Petlad court to proceed against Swami under murder and arms act related charges.

Akil Kureshi in his judgement said:

-PetladMagistrate committed an error in dismissing the complaint for offence punishable under Section 302 of the IPC and the Arms Act against Swamiji.

-Whether Swamiji had fired in self defence or even if such defence was valid, whether he exceeded such right of self defence are questions which can be gone into only at the time of trial and not at this stage.

-Insofar as rest of the accused(other than Swamiji)are concerned, however, there is nothing on record to link them with the said firing. Their involvement for offense under Section 302 read with Section 114 of IPC is simply not made out. With respect to allegations of offense punishable under the Atrocities Act, allegations are too general. None of the witnesses including Rameshbhai Madhiyabhai Damor alleged as to which accused abused or insulted the deceased or anyone else in the name of caste. Against accused no.2 to 5 therefore, there is no case to proceed further.

-Learned Magistrate shall issue process under Section 204 of the Code of Criminal Procedure against Swamiji for offense under Section 302 of the IPC and under the Arms Act and proceed further in accordance with law, thereafter.

Swami challenged the High Court order in Supreme Court but failed to get relief.

Soon after this, while speaking in a function held at Mahesana town of north Gujarat last year, Swami Shri Sachchidanandaji had said that nobody was injured by his gun shot in July 2006 night. He said Babu Mohania died of diabetes in Ahmedabad hospital and his death had nothing to do with Dantali Ashram.

“I had kept my gun down while firing rounds that night to avoid injury to any of the outsiders who had attacked my Ashram. This man Babu Mohania died due to diabetes in Ahmedabad’s hospital. His death was deliberately connected to Ashram firing, by specific people targeting me. Actually nobody was injured when I fired from my gun,” Swamiji said.

It should be mentioned that attack by unidentified persons who were conceived as robbers in Swami’s Dantali ashram, had taken place few days after Swami Sachchidananda openly held a public meeting against Swadhyay Parivar’s present leadership. The public meeting was held after Swadhyay Parivar rebellion Pankaj Trivedi was murdered.

Swamiji urged the Supreme Court for relief in Babu Mohania case citing his age and his religious position. In response, the Supreme Court had directed that Swamiji should not be arrested before 1st of February 2012.

Now in February, the Anand sessions court has denied anticipatory bail to Swamiji after which he has been untraceable for some time. Later the decision of Anand sessions court was challenged in the Gujarat High Court.

Today Gujarat High Court has given anticipatory bail to Swamiji.

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