Tamil Nadu

POCSO case accused Siva Shankaran moves HC, seeks bail

Godman C.N. Siva Shankaran alias Siva Shankar Baba, 73, of Chennai has moved the Madras High Court seeking bail in two of the three cases booked against him under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act of 2012. He claimed he was not involved in the management of a private residential school, at Kelambakkam near Chennai, whose former students had lodged complaints against him.

The petitioner claimed that he had only delivered guest lectures on spirituality and Tamil language in the school on being invited by its management. When his two bail petitions were listed before Justice M. Dhandapani on Tuesday, the judge directed a government counsel to produce by August 11 the statements of witnesses recorded by the police under Section 161 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (Cr.P.C.)

The judge told senior counsel Mohan Parasaran, representing the accused, that he generally takes a call on granting bail in POCSO Act cases only after perusing the witness statements recorded by the police and therefore would want to follow the same procedure in this case too. The judge said the prosecution could also file its counter affidavit to the bail petitions, if it wishes, in the meantime.

In his petition, the accused stated that he was born at Alankayam in North Arcot district in 1949 and joined a goods carrier transport company in Chennai in 1968 and eventually became its manager. Thereafter, he started his own firm named Ganga Cauvery Roadlines at Broadway in Chennai, constructed a bungalow in Anna Nagar and led a prosperous life.

He claimed he had a "spiritual awakening" in 1984 and went on a pilgrimage to mountains, forests and religious places. “On his enlightened return, the petitioner put up an Ayyappan temple at his house,” he said and told the court that he quit his family on January 16, 1997 and his wife, son and daughter were now residing in the United States with no connection with him.

Initially, he started his "spiritual activities" in a small room at Mannady in Chennai before shifting to the terrace of his devotee’s house in Besant Nagar and then moving to Neelankarai where Samratchana Trust, founded by him, had purchased 12 grounds of land. He also claimed to have been delivering only guest lectures at a school whose former students had chosen to lodge complaints against him after many years of the alleged incidents.

He said one of the complainants was a 21-year-old Bharatnatyam dancer who had accused him of having forcibly hugged and kissed her when she was a student in 2018 and also when she had visited the school for a dance performance after completing schooling. Accusing the complainant of having made false allegations on "imaginary grounds", he claimed the complaint had been lodged to gain “cheap popularity.”

The petitioner also sought bail on health grounds stating that he was a heart patient who was suffering from various other ailments too.

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Printable version | Sep 29, 2021 8:00:54 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/pocso-case-accused-siva-shankaran-moves-hc-seeks-bail/article35711940.ece

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