See also Indian Express announcement of Premananda's life sentence here - plus two Deccan Herald articles



      On 20th August, 1997, curtains came down on the sleazy criminal activities of a diabolical Swami Premananda when he, along with six accomplices, were convicted in cases involving 13 rapes and a murder of inmates of an Ashram near Tiruchy run by the Swami. Meticulous investigation carried out by the Crime Brach cm led to a land mark conviction of life sentence for the Swami and his five accomplices and two years imprisonment for one accused. The seven accused were also ordered to pay a fine cumulatively amounting to Rs.62 lakhs.
This judgement of the Principal Sessions Judge, Pudukkottai was appealed against by the accused in the Hon'ble High Court of Madras. The appeal of the accused was rejected on 12.12.2002 by a two Judges Bench of the High Court and the sentences were upheld.
A news item in "The Indian Express" dated 15.11.1994 under the caption, "Tale of the two who were able to get away" followed by a complaint, dated 16.11.1994 given by R. Sureshkumari @ Baby to the Inspector of Police, Viralimalai laid the foundation for this unparalleled and sensational case of rape of 13 girls and one murder in an Ashram near Tiruchirappalli (Tamil Nadu). Sureshkumari, in her complaint, had stated that she joined the Premanada Swami Ashram, Mathalai, Sri Lanka when she was six years of age. She was taken to India by the Swami along with 12 other girls in the year 1984 when the Ashram was formed at Tiruchy. She had been subjected to sexual harassment by the Swami even before she attained puberty at the age of 13, and she was raped within a month of her attaining puberty by the Swami by threat and by beating her. She escaped from the Ashram at the age of 14 and came to Madras, but was caught by the police and sent back to the Ashram. She came to know from some inmates of the Ashram that Premananda had not only raped her, but also many other girls in the Ashram, and she had secretly recorded their conversation in a cassette. She then approached one of her relatives, Ananda Mohan who helped her and Latha, another inmate, to come out of the Ashram to Chennai with the assistance of an NGO. Divya Devi, an accomplice of the Swami, was abetting his misdeeds. Ultimately, SureshKumari left the Ashram on 01.11.1994, but could not gather the courage to give a police complaint till 16.11.1994. A background of the case is as follows:-
One Premananda called Swami Premananda, was running an orphanage called Boopalakrishna Ashram at Mathalai, Sri Lanka. Swami Premananda came over to India in the year 1984 due to ethnic disturbances in Srilanka. About 12 young Tamil girls and a few women, who were in the Ashram in Sri Lanka, also came to Trichy through Rameswaram and Vedaranyam by boat. Initially, Swami Premananda set up an Ashram in a rented building at Tiruchy and then expanded it and moved to Fathima Nagar in 1989 in a sprawling area spread over nearly 150 acres. The Ashram had separate areas for residence, eating place, press, school, etc. About 100 girls and 100 boys, mostly orphans, were staying in the Ashram. There were separate hostels for the boys, girls and women. Besides, the devotees as well as the parents of some of the children were also living in the Ashram headed by Swami Premananda. The Swami claimed to have mystic powers and Performed miracles to materialize viboothi (sacred ash) and Lingams from stomach (Lingothbhavam). Four poojas were Performed everyday and the Swami used to give spiritual discourses, etc. The Ashram had branches all over the world, including England, Switzerland, Belgium, Sri Lanka and other countries. A number of devotees coming from abroad were also staying in the Ashram. There were different categories of people living there, including Sanyasins who were called 'Mathajis' , assistants, devotees, orphans, etc. The Administrator of the Ashram was Divya Devi, who ran the management under the guidance of the Swami.
Most of the victim girls had joined the Ashram in Sri Lanka in their tender ages and subsequently shifted to India clandestinely. They' depended entirely on the Ashram for their food, shelter and clothing. Being illegal immigrants from Sri Lanka with no papers and nobody either to take care of them or make any provision for their future, they were under the total control and mercy of the authority of the Ashram.
During the period between 1990 and October1994,Premananda committed rape on 13 girls. He used to commit rape immediately some time after the girls attained puberty while they were put on guard duty during nights and at other odd hours and places. Mathaji Divya Rani and some others assisted and abetted the acts of the Swami. One Ravi, an inmate of the Ashram who had tried to expose the misdeeds of the Swami was beaten and starved to death by Swami Premananda and buried in the Ashram itself. The allegations that a spiritual guru had misused the faith reposed in him by the devotees, and a father-like person had raped tender girls, subjected them to torture and the murder of the Ravi, another inmate of the Ashram, created sensational news, resulting in the investigation.
A case was registered at Viralimalai Police station on 17.11.1994 under sections 142 and 376 of the Indian Penal Code. Investigation was taken up by the Crime Branch cm. The victims Sureshkumari and Latha were examined by the Inspector of Police. They were medically examined with the permission granted by the Chief Metropolitan Magistrate. A team of seven Inspectors of Police was constituted to investigate the case. In the morning of 19.11.1994, the Ashram was inspected and on the same day, Swami Premananda was arrested at  11.30 am. The victim girls, were medically and radiologically examined on 19.11.1994 and on 21.11.1994. Swami Premananda was also medically examined on 20.11.1994.
In the medical examination, the thirteen victim girls were found to have been accustomed to sexual intercourse. All the victim girls were sent for radiological examination for determining their age. Their statements under section 164 Cr. P.C. were recorded by the Judicial Magistrate. Six more accused were arrested on 23.11.1994. On the basis of their confession, the place where the body of Ravi had been buried was identified.
A requisition was made for exhumation of the remains of the deceased Ravi and exhumation was conducted on 24.11.1994. An Inquest was conducted on the body of the deceased. The Doctor who conducted the post-mortem, found eleven ante-mortem injuries on his body. The chemical analysis of the soil collected from and around the various bones was also conducted and human blood was detected on them. A super imposition test was conducted which disclosed that the skull in question belonged to Ravi. Various places in the Ashram were searched and articles seized on 25.11.1995, including several letters and correspondence from the kudil of the Swami and the absconding accused Divya Devi as well as that of another accused Kamalananda.
Two of the accused who were arrested on 21.12.1994, were examined in the presence of the witnesses and their confession statements U/s 164 Cr.P.C were recorded. On the basis of the confession statements, the CBCID. took them as Approvers.
One of the victim girls, Aruljothi, was found to be pregnant. She requested for termination of her pregnancy. On 21.01.1995, her statement was recorded by the Metropolitan Magistrate, and a requisition was sent to the Judicial Magistrate, Keeranur to direct the doctors to conduct abortion and to collect the products of conception and her sample blood for D.N.A. The products of conception and 10 ml. Sample blood of the victim were collected in the special containers sent by the Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (C.C.M.B.) Hyderabad. On the same day, the sealed samples were handed over to C.C.M.B., Hyderabad.
Sample blood of Swami Premananda was also taken in pursuance to the requisition by the C.B., C.I.D., and the sealed sample was handed over to C.C.M.B., Hyderabad. The CCMB report confirmed that Swami Premananda was responsible for the product of conception! aborted fetus beyond reasonable doubt.
The sample writings and signatures of the accused Premananda and were obtained Kamalananda were taken and Handwriting expert's opinion was obtained.
The Inspector of Police, C.B.,C.I.D. filed a charge sheet on 25.01.1995 against Swami Premananda and seven others including the absconding accused Divya Devi. Despite the efforts by the investigating agency, she could not be arrested since she had left the country. She was declared a Proclaimed Offender on 27.04.1995 by the Judicial Magistrate, Keeranur.

Subsequently the case against her was split up. Divya Devi continues to abscond and a red corner notice has been issued by INTERPOL for her arrest.
The trial was bitterly fought and the defendants used every trick in the book to get out of the clutches of law. The victim girls were subjected to humiliating Cross - examinations involving intimate, private details and defence witnesses were put up to tarnish their character. The very basis of scientific investigations was questioned and the investigating officer was accused of obtaining evidence through promises of giving benefits to the prosecution witnesses However, the learned Principal Sessions Judge,. Pudukkottai, examined the entire case with amazing clarity and insight and dismissed the contentions of the defence on extremely sound and logical grounds.
Dismissing the appeal of Premananda and his accomplices, the Hon'ble High Court of Madras, in their order dated 12th December, 2002, has made the following valuable observations:
The above criminal proceedings are unique of its kind. It has shown the vulnerability of orphans, especially girls and the need for their protection. It has revealed to what extent persons professing as spiritual gurus could screen their true picture, But for the small step taken by one of the victim girls and the timely help provided to her by the All India Women Democratic Association and "The Indian Express", the whole episode would not have seen the light of the day.
The above case demonstrates the urgent need for updating the scientific investigation techniques and experts' opinion. Much of the energy spent on gathering oral evidence and their risk of being tampered can be saved. It will help speedy investigation and successful trial. All the advanced countries have made laws for gathering and test-finding D.N.A. We must not lag behind.
We reiterate that investigation and courts must be sensitive, helpful and understanding towards the victims of rape. We must expedite the proceedings at all levels in order to put an end to the agony and the tampering of the victim girls so that they can be restored to normal life.
Women police and lady judges should be able to inspire confidence and understanding the victims of such crimes. Therefore, wherever possible, the enquiry, recording and trial in matters concerning rape cases could be entrusted to lady officers and judges.
We record our appreciation for the good investigation done in this case and the painstaking work done by the trial court.

See also Swami Premananda Sentence by Criminal Court

and Professor Erlendur Haraldsson's discovery of Premananda's fraud in producing vibuthi