The Gujarat High Court recently said that the Union Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) and other authorities have failed to perform their duties and protect the personal liberty of two girls, both of whom are alleged to be in ‘wrongful confinement’ of controversial self-styled godman Swami Nithyananda abroad.
A division bench of Justices NV Anjaria and Niral R Mehta noted that though the father of the two girls moved the High Court through a Habeas Corpus petition way back in November 2019, the authorities have done little to bring back the girls or even to connect with them in Jamaica’s Kingston, where they are allegedly kept in confinement.
“The proceedings of habeas corpus petition witnessed several orders. Even as the same comes up for consideration today after long drawn time, nothing has yielded. On the contrary, the state of affairs obtained could not be said to be welcome,” the bench observed in its order passed on November 12.
The judges noted that even though MHA was made a respondent in the petition, it was yet to file any affidavit in the case.
“The authorities are prima face seen to be falling short in performance of their duties towards investigation and to secure personal liberty of the corpuses and to address concern of the worrying father,” the bench said.
It, therefore, ordered MHA to file an affidavit, since the girls were stated to be out of India.
The petitioner submitted that his two daughters went missing under ‘mysterious circumstances’ in November 2019.
He alleged that Swami Nithyananda, who is a respondent in the petition, has a major role in this case where his daughters were forcibly taken away and enticed for illegal purposes.
The Court noted that several orders were passed in the past by various benches of the High Court, yet it did not yield anything fruitful.
“…it is incumbent on the part of the authorities to file their affidavit in reply and to put forth their stand forthright indicating the efforts they had put in to trace corpuses,” the bench said, while ordering all the authorities to file their affidavits.
Senior advocate BB Naik, who represented the two ‘missing’ girls told the bench that he last communicated with them in April 2022 and has not been able to speak to them since then.
Various benches had tried in the past to secure their virtual presence before the court but the girls did not appear.
The girls had in February last year, agreed to appear in Indian Permanent Mission to the United Nations along with the representative of the United Nations Commission on Human Rights (UNCHR) and with the US lawyer, without revealing their present place of abode.
The bench adjourned the matter for further hearing till February 6.
According to bar and bench sources Advocate Pritesh M Shah appeared for the Petitioner. and Advocate Kshitij M Amin appeared for Union of India.
Public Prosecutor Mitesh Amin and Additional Public Prosecutor Manan Mehta represented the State.
Rape accused Nithyananda who fled the country has been all over social media after he allegedly bought an island near Ecuador and declared it as a ‘Hindu nation’.
The Gujarat Police has booked Nithyananda for child abuse and kidnapping after four children were rescued from a flat near his ashram in Ahmedabad, in November this year.
The Karnataka trial court had also issued charges against him in June 2018. Nithyananda faces trial under Sections 376 (rape), 377 (unnatural sex), 114 (criminal abatement), 420 (cheating), 201 (disappearance of evidence, giving false information), 120B (criminal conspiracy) of the Indian Penal Code.