Charges against Karmapa in criminal conspiracy case dropped

Shimla: The Himachal Pradesh government’s move to remove the name of Tibetan religious head and the 17th Karmapa Ogyen Trinley Dorje from a currency seizure case got the court’s nod today with the judge deciding to drop the charges against him.

“After considering the plea moved by the prosecution to drop his name from the charge sheet, Judicial Magistrate Kanika Chawla in Una town has decided to remove his name,” said District Attorney Ram Swaroop Sharma.

The Karmapa was charged under Section 120 B (criminal conspiracy) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).

He was the 10th accused in the seizure of currencies of 26 countries, including 120,197 Chinese yuan and around Rs.5.3 million in Indian currency, from the Gyuto Tantric University and Monastery located on the outskirts of Dharamsala, the seat of the Tibetan government-in-exile, Jan 28 last year.

Sharma said the trial against nine other accused in the case would continue and the hearing is next slated for Aug 4.

The 26-year-old Karmapa is the spiritual head of the Karma Kagyu School, one of the four sects of Tibetan Buddhism. He joined the Dalai Lama in exile in 2000. Ever since, he has mostly lived at the monastery in Sidhbari near Dharamsala.

As the news about dropping of charges against the Karmapa spread, a large number of the exiles and his followers assembled in his Sidhbari monastery.

“Finally the truth has prevailed. We have always expressed faith in the rule of law of the country. We all are much relieved,” said Gonpo Tsering, administrative secretary to the Karmapa.

After taking the opinion of the state home and law departments, the government last month decided under Section 321 (withdrawal of prosecution) of the Code of Criminal Procedure to drop the Karmapa’s name from the charge sheet.

An official associated with the case said the government in its report said that “the Karmapa is an esteemed religious leader of the Tibetans with a vast following and charging him with conspiracy could hurt the religious sentiments of the people”.

He said the law department observed that the charges against the Karmapa “are very weak and there is no material evidence to corroborate them”.

The Karmapa’s name was included in the charge sheet filed by police Dec 7, 2011.

His office told investigating agencies that the money was collected in donations from followers the world over, including scores who come from Tibet and carry Chinese currency.

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