Double life sentence for Premananda

DECCAN HERALD Thursday, August 21, 1997 DH News Service CHENNAI, Aug 20

In a sensational judgment, controversial godman Premananda was today convicted of rape and murder and awarded double life imprisonment and a cumulative fine of Rs.66.4 lakh. Pudukottai District and Sessions Judge R Banumathi also ruled that the 46-year-old godman should undergo the life sentences consecutively. He should undergo rigorous imprisonment for a further period of 32 years and nine months if he failed to pay the fine, the judge added.

Premananda, a Kandyan Tamil from Sri Lanka who set up an 'ashram` near Tiruchi in the mid-`80s, was found guilty of raping 13 inmates of his ashram and murdering a disciple, Ravi. The victims were all Sri Lankan Tamils. Along with Premananda, his chief disciple Kamalananda was also awarded life imprisonment and a fine of Rs.12,500 for abetting the crimes and tampering with evidence. The judge said Kamalananda should undergo a further threeyears` RI if he failed to pay the fine.

Kamalananda`s wife, Dr Chandradevi, was found guilty of performing abortions on the rape victims and was sentenced to imprisonment for two years and seven months. But, as she had already spent that period as an undertrial, the judge ordered that she be set free upon paying a fine of Rs.30,000. The judge also awarded life sentence to four other co-accused, all disciplesof Premananda. They were - Balendran, Mayilvahanan, Nandakumar and Satish. While Balendran was fined Rs.10,000, others were ordered to pay Rs.12,000 each. The judge said the fines collected should be used to pay compensation of Rs.5 lakh each to the 13 rape victims. The judge said the convicted prisoners would not be entitled to any remission considering the heinous nature of the crimes committed.

The judge delivered the verdict in a packed courthall where the godman and other accused were produced. Activists of some women`s organisations raised slogans against the godman when he was brought to the court. As many as 49 prosecution witnesses and 64 defence witnesses were examinedin the case which came to light after one of the victims, Sureshkumari, escaped from the ashram and exposed the sex scandal in early 1994.

Prominent among the prosecution witnesses was forensic expert Jayaprakash who established the identity of murder victim Ravi from a skull recovered from the ashram. The prosecution also roped in as witnesses several doctors in Tiruchi and Pudukottai who had attended on the girls raped by Premananda. One of the victims, Aruljothi, became pregnant and a DNA test done in Hyderabad established that Premananda was the culprit.Noted criminal lawyer Ram Jethmalani appeared for Premananda who was arrested along with eight others in November 1994. Two of the accused later turned approvers. Premananda later told newsmen that he would appeal against the judgment.

Divyadevi, one of the principal disciples of Premananda, escaped immediately after the scandal came to light and her properties worth Rs.80 lakh were attached to the court. She is still untraced.

PTI adds: The godman was in a defiantly jovial mood after the judgment, as he smiled at photographers while being taken back to prison, and said: ''Truth will ultimately triumph.`` 'Swami` Premananda`s sordid story unfolded in the middle of November 1994, when the girls he had raped came out with startling revelatory interviews to a leading English daily. The girls had sought shelter with the help of some women activists at 'Udavum Karangal`, a charitable organisation in Chennai.

The interviews created a sensation, and the then AIADMK government, already plagued by a whisper campaign that the disgraced 'hermit` was close to some of the ministers, swung into action within days. The Crime Branch-CID of the state police raided Premananda`s ashram at Viralimalai near Tiruchirappalli and arrested Premananda and others. But Divya, a mysterious associate of Premananda, who was known to the ashramites as Divya Mataji, managed to give the slip to the police as she was abroad when the scandal broke out.

Premananda, whose real name was Ravi, settled down in India in the early 1980s after fleeing Sri Lanka as a refugee. With the help of some close friends, he set up the ashram in sylvan environs. Nothing in the ashram`s external appearance suggested the sordid goings-on inside.


An epoch making 408 page judgment by judge R. Bhanumathi finally put an end to a case of debauchery of a self proclaimed "celibate" godman, Swami Premananda of Sri Lanka who came to Tamil Nadu as a refugee in the eighties. A straight case of establishing paternity through a standard DNA test was complicated by people and courts. The other crimes committed by the godman too came out as major revelations that spanned a three-year court trial finally culminating in a sentence of life imprisonment for two terms and a hefty fine of Rs.66,40,000. It is said he was involved in the rape of 13 girls in his ashram near Tiruchirapalli and for ordering the murder of a male inmate, all Sri Lankan refugees. Cases such as these are eye-openers and throw up a lot of issues to debate about people's gullibility, indisputable scientific evidence, awe about expert opinion.

The unassailable evidence provided by the DNA finger printing conducted by Dr. Lalji Singh, Deputy Director of the Center for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB), and currently, officer on special duty at the Center for DNA Finger Printing and Diagnostics (CDFD) established the 45 - year old Swami Premananda as the biological father of the foetus as a result of rape of 19-year-old Arul Jyothi.

The DNA test evidence was presented by the prosecution based on four types of probes of international standards such as - the multi locus, single locus, PCR based VNTR loci and micro- satellite investigation. This was sought to be contested by the defence by having a British expert present the DNA test results. That there is a ban placed by the Medical Council of India on seeking such expertise from abroad when comparable expertise is available within the country seems to have been ignored by the Sessions court which was ordered by the High Court to send the foetal samples sent by the Tamil Nadu police to Dr. Lalji Singh. What is more astonishing is that the British expert whose report was presented by the defence lawyer Ram Jethmalani was neither based on tests conducted as per international standards (as were done by the CCMB) nor certified and supported by photographs as was done in the case of evidence provided by the prosecution. Further, the British geneticist's report puts to shame British science where DNA finger printing originated and casts serious aspersions on the British lab which conducted the actual test. It goes to prove that the scientific expertise as is widely believed is not the exclusive preserve of the west but as much a prized possession enjoyed by the Indian scientific community. Dr. Woll, the British genticist admitted that the DNA evidence provided by the Indian scientists' team to be far superior to the only short tandem repeat (STR) test he had done at another lab goes a long way in spreading the message across about the Indian expertise.

Even the court found the tests done at the CCMB far superior to those done anywhere abroad. It is a great victory to science and scientists of the so called "land of snakes and snake charmers" who, little known as it may be, that they follow rigorous standards and procedures for their scientific tests. Simply because a report is sought from a foreign expert, one cannot accept the results in awe even when it is not supported with proper photographs, documentation and due certification.

Cases such as Premananda's provide a good opportunity to take science to such authorities for whom new technologies are relevant as well as to many a common man by making the DNA test public knowledge. Dr. Lalji Singh gives a lot of credit in this context to the Tamil Nadu police and commends the timeliness of their action in taking appropriate steps of obtaining the aborted foetal sample from Arul Joythi, and obtaining the court's permission to send it for DNA testing.

Obtaining the foetus for providing evidence was crucial and of paramount importance in this case. The Swami despite the rape of 13 victims could not be brought to book until the clinching evidence of the DNA test results whereby it was shown that the foetal DNA pattern contained 50% of the bands from its biological father, the Swami, and 50% of the bands from its biological mother Arul Jyothi. Refuting the defence accusations of manipulation of foetal evidences Dr. Lalji said, "the courts must approach the scientific evidence in a scientific way and not suspect it and dub it as connivance with the police. It is impossible for any scientist to mix the sperm and the egg of the accused and the victim to obtain a DNA pattern, for it is a heritable occurrence". The courts must be urged to adopt a scientific approach to find out the validity and the reliability of the test procedures than viewing the test results with suspicion.

Had the case gone against the CCMB evidence, it would have been a point for the multinational conglomerates to push themselves and their wares to set up shop on Indian soil on the pretext that such expertise was not available within our country, because DNA tests and other genetic tests are a big business abroad. Although there are a number of scientific institutions which carry out the DNA finger printing test including the Indian Institute of Science,(IISc) Bangalore, Tata Institute of Fundamental research, both Bombay and Bangalore, Madurai Kamaraj University of Life Sciences, Anna University, but none of them do the test regularly for anyone because of the repeated court appearances and long pendency of cases.

To standardize on the procedures and guidelines of such genetic tests whose results are sought by courts, Dr. Lalji Singh suggests setting up of a national committee and once the guidelines are laid down, results of such tests must be included in the evidence act as scientific evidence. The association for the promotion of DNA finger printing and other DNA technologies has set up a committee with the initiative from CDFD has formulated standards, quality assurance and guidelines for DNA finger printing. The committee has submitted the report to the association and once the suggested changes are incorporated, the document will be ready for finalization and printing. This document may be considered by the Government of India as a national document in setting up a national committee to review and make necessary changes. Currently, these Guidelines are being followed by the CDFD. Although, the DNA test used to be conducted at the CCMB before, since March 1996, the CDFD has been conducting the DNA and other genetic tests.

The CDFD is an autonomous institution of the department of biotechnology currenty housed in CCMB. It is proposed to have its own building near Himayat Sagar close to the A.P.Police Academy.













Some time after the Lingodbhava Swamiji blows vibhuti from His mouth. He explained that this phenomena is a healing process for His body after manifesting the lingams. Actually Swamiji can bring vibhuti from all over the body. Several times after Shivaratri we could openly see that Holy Ash was pouring from all over Him.
He said it is God's grace manifesting through His body in a tangible form for our sakes. During Vibhuti Bhava all the devotees were asked to sit in rows and Swamiji went to each person, blessing them by placing His hands on their respective heads whilst vibhuti was pouring out of His mouth.
He used to bless the devotees in this way for several hours.
Afterwards Swamiji would continue to blow out vibhuti in His house, sometimes all night long. The fine, extremely fragrant powder was caught in a soft cotton bag and later on packed and sent to the Centres and devotees.






Date: 09-04-06

By: Ex Baba admin.

The Sathya Sai Baba lookalike, alleged avatar and copyist of Sai Baba's behaviour in numerous ways - 'materialiser' of vibuthi, trinkets and lingams has been defended by many of his former followers as innocent of the charges. All manner of criticism of the High Court judgement, the double life sentence for rape of 5 young women and murder of one man, and the international DNA expert's analysis of the physical evidence (from an aborted foetus) has been made by these 'true believers'. However, the entire process has been re-examined by the Supreme Court of India and found to be valid throughout and the sentencing fully justified.