Satlok Ashram and its head Rampal were seemingly at the receiving end during the previous Congress regime after several cases, including that of murder, being registered against him and his followers.
However, it now emerges that just before the 2014 assembly polls, then Congress regime, which was battling a strong anti-incumbency, tried to appease the ashram and do some vote-catching politics by initiating the process of withdrawal of certain cases against the ashram head and his supporters. Deras and ashrams, having a huge support base among sections of society, transcending caste and community lines, have often been eyed by political parties. Dera Sacha Sauda, which openly lent its support to the BJP during the recent assembly polls, is a case in point.
Withdrawal of cases
Sources stated that after receiving applications from ashram followers seeking the withdrawal of certain criminal cases, then Congress government had initiated the process of withdrawal of cases from prosecution. Section 321 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) provides that the public prosecutor or assistant public prosecutor in charge of a case may with the consent of the court at any time before the judgment is pronounced, withdraw from the prosecution of any person either generally or in respect of any one or more of the offences for which he is tried. This means retraction or refraining from the proceedings any further after getting permission from the state government. Before granting sanction to withdraw cases from prosecution, the government has to justify its decision citing objectives such as promoting public peace and harmony or stopping false and vexatious prosecution. Reports in this regard are taken from the district magistrate concerned.
If the withdrawal is made before a charge has been framed, the accused shall be discharged in respect of such offence or offences and if it is made after a charge has been framed or when under CrPc no charge was required, then the accused shall be acquitted in respect of such offence or offences.