Une information rapportée par Times of India
Rosy Sequeira,TNN | Jul 6, 2014, 11.29 PM IST
MUMBAI: Physical touch is unnecessary for cleansing the soul, said the Armed Forces Tribunal here, while upholding the conviction by a court martial of Major General Arun Kumar Lal, former general officer commanding, 3 Infantry Division, for inappropriately touching a junior officer in order to "activate her chakras" during two meditation sessions.
Lal was dismissed from service on December 16, 2010. Hearing his appeal, a bench of Justice J H Bhatia (retd) and air marshal D C Kumaria modified the sentence of dismissal to deemed removal saying it appears that "due to momentary lapse from the high virtuous path, he committed the mistake" and it would be very harsh if he is required to forfeit his retirement dues.
The bench noted that Lal was teaching meditation to all ranks for almost 20 years as preceptor of the Chennai-based Shri Ram Chandra Mission and there was never a complaint against him except in the case of Captain Nisha Singh (name changed). It also observed that Lal had 36 years of "unblemished'' service and was GOC of one of the largest infantry divisions in the country.
Lal was appointed GOC in June 2006. According to the prosecution, Singh, who had barely two-and-a-half years of service, was commanded by Lal to escort a senior officer's wife for meditation sessions to his residence at Leh on August 27, 2007. He asked her to stay back, saying some "cleaning of soul'' was required and called her to his bedroom-cum-meditation room. Asking her to activate his pressure points, he allegedly asked her to inappropriately touch him which she refused. The next day Lal again asked her to wait. They meditated for five minutes after which he asked her to touch him inappropriately to activate his chakras. When she felt awkward, he told her that if she could not do it, he would activate her chakras. In this process, he touched her inappropriately. He then offered her dinner, saying it was customary for a preceptor to cook food and feed his abyasis (students). When Singh reached home, she contacted her fiance who is also an army officer.
A court martial convicted Lal, among others, for outraging the modesty of a woman. Before the tribunal, Lal's advocate argued that his client found Singh "was interested in drinking liquor and had some problem with her character and behaviour". "The accused found it necessary to clean her soul as per the procedure of Sahaj Marg," he said, adding that since she did not like his advice against drinking she had made false allegations against him. The bench did not accept this and noted that they had no prior contact. The defence ministry's advocate, Advait Sethna, said there was no problem in Singh's character and that Lal had misused his authority.
The bench its April 11, 2014 order said nowhere in books published by the Mission was it shown that for initiation or during meditation it is necessary to physically touch anybody.