Bengaluru: Raghaveshwara Bharathi, the head of Ramachandrapura Mutt who has been booked for raping a woman devotee, must compulsorily undergo a medical test, both the Union and State governments told the High Court on Wednesday. The State government has filed an appeal for permission to subject the seer to a medical test.
Assistant Solicitor General (ASG), Krishna Dixit, who appeared before the court as the Union government has been impleaded in the matter, categorically stated that the seer must undergo a medical test as per Section 53(A) of Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC).
The seer has contended that the medical test—the CrPC allows extraction of body fluids—is a violation of Articles 20 (3) and 21 of the Constitution of India. Article 20 (3) says no person accused of any offence shall be compelled to be a witness against himself while Article 21 envisages protection of life and personal liberty. Challenging the validity of the CrPC, his counsel had stated that the body fluid would be obtained by force, which was “nothing but torture”.
Dixit submitted that India is a signatory to various international conventions and the United Nation’s resolution, which defines torture and prohibits it. “Extracting body fluids is permissible even under the UN resolution. Even the apex courts of the United States of America and the United Kingdom have allowed this and there is no reason why the same cannot be done here,” he argued. The CrPC, 1898, did not provide for compulsive medical test, and as a result, many an accused had been acquitted.
“The Law Commission of India recommended amendment to the CrPC to facilitate scientific investigation. Sections 53 and 54 of the CrPC were introduced in 1973 and amended in 2005. Section 53 (A) was introduced to ensure compulsory medical examination of the accused in rape and attempt-to-rape cases,” Dixit submitted, stressing that the seer should be subjected to medical examination. The ASG cited several apex court judgments to support this point.
On the demand that the accused be informed about the medical test he would undergo, Dixit said that could not be done as the accused might consume some kind of drugs before subjecting himself to the test and might defeat the purpose of the test.
Advocate General Ravivarma Kumar also contended that medical examination was a must in this case. On the seer’s contention that he should be informed about the test he would undergo, the advocate general said that the medical test was the discretion of the medical officer who would determine the kind of test to be done. Justice A N Venugopala Gowda adjourned the hearing after the counsel for the seer sought more time to file objections.