The California State Court of Appeal Aug. 24 dismissed a plea by ‘hot yoga’ guru Bikram Choudhury, remanding him to pay $7.3 million to his former attorney, Minakshi Jafa-Bodden, who had sued him for sexual harassment and wrongful termination.
A panel of three judges noted that the Indian American yoga teacher was negligent in paying out any of the damages Jafa-Bodden was awarded in 2016. Moreover, he had transferred several cars from his valuable collection out of state, despite a temporary restraining order restricting any movement of the vehicles, the panel said. Choudhury owns 43 vehicles, including several Rolls Royces. The yoga master was personally served with the TRO in Thailand.
Jafa-Bodden was also not given a Franck Muller watch and shares of Bikram, Inc. and Bikram Choudhury Yoga, Inc., which she was awarded in the suit.
Most of Choudhury’s studios in the U.S. are now shuttered. Choudhury was last seen conducting his teacher training program in Amby Valley, outside of Lonavala, a hill station near Mumbai.
“It has long been the rule in California that an appealing party may not flagrantly disobey court orders concerning the subject of the appeal without risking dismissal. This case presents no exception, and we dismiss the appeal under the disentitlement doctrine,” wrote the judges in their ruling.
In an e-mail interview with Mid-Day, Jafa-Bodden’s attorneys said a warrant for Choudhury’s arrest had been issued, and has reached INTERPOL. The $8 million arrest warrant seeks to extradite Choudhury from wherever he currently resides, and return him to California before the end of the year.
Jafa-Bodden’s attorneys claimed that Choudhury had transferred a number of assets to his son, in violation of the court award, and has also created shell companies to transfer and hide his assets.
“The fight is far from over,” said Jafa-Bodden’s attorneys in the e-mail to Mid-Day. “We absolutely must collect on the judgment. If not, there will be no accountability and the jury's verdict — while it will still be an important moral victory and vindication of Minakshi's struggle — will not have the "teeth" sufficient to make an individual like Bikram understand that he cannot engage in this illegal, outrageous, and vile conduct without paying the price.”