India: Jain Sage Denied 7 Months Time to Walk to Court

India Jain Sage

A Jain sage, against whom a criminal case has been lodged, requested a metropolitan court in the Indian state of Gujarat to cancel the warrant against him on grounds that he would be unable to appear in court for the next seven months. The reason Acharya Kirti Yashurishwarji Maharaj put forth for his delay was that he would be walking 2,200 kilometers from Kolkata to Ahmedabad, since his religious beliefs forbid him from using any vehicle to commute. Maharaj went on to elaborate how his old age and spinal injury would keep him from walking more than 10 to 12 kilometers each day, thus expecting the court to wait for seven months before starting trial against him so he could personally attend the legal proceedings.

However, the court refused Maharaj’s request last month and issued a fresh warrant against him. Now, the monk would be tried for allegedly publishing a false notification about the Central Government endorsing the practice of Bal Diksha, whereby children are inducted into the monastic order as their means to renounce worldly pleasures, and also suggesting that the practice does not violate juvenile protection laws. The complaint against Maharaj was filed by Rashmin Shah, who sued four others from the Jain community for forging government documents and denying children their rights.

Maharaj had earlier moved Gujarat High Court to have the charges dropped. Not only did the court castigate the practice at the time, but it also came down heavily on the state government for failing to curb Bal Diksha. Earlier this year, the complainants urged the court to issue a warrant against the Jain sage, after he failed to appear in court within the designated period. A bailable warrant was issued at the time but Maharaj wanted it canceled after clarifying his inability to reach the court soon for legitimate reasons.

Photo Credits: British Broadcasting Corporation

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