Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh on Thursday, moved the Punjab and Haryana high court against the decision of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) special court, Haryana, regarding defence witnesses.
The trial court had curtailed the list of defence witnesses in the rape case against the dera chief, who had produced a list of 98 witnesses, of which 28 have been examined.
The CBI special court had recently ordered that it would allow just one more defence witness in the case. Ram Rahim has challenged the trial court order, asking that he be allowed to produce more witnesses in the court.
After hearing the plea on Thursday morning, justice Anupinder Singh Grewal ordered that the petition be referred to some other bench with orders from the acting chief justice.
The special court judge had observed that the names of witnesses included people who had passed away, while in some cases, wrong addresses of witnesses were provided. There were instances where a number of witnesses were called to prove the same point.
In 2002, anonymous letters addressed to then prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and the chief justice of Punjab and Haryana high court were circulated, alleging sexual exploitation of female followers at Dera Sacha Sauda in Sirsa (Haryana).
On September 24, 2002, justice Adarsh Kumar Goel had handed over the case to the CBI. The chargesheet in the case was filed on July 30, 2007. There are two rape victims in the case and the prosecution closed its evidence on September 3, 2013, with both victims standing by their allegations of rape by Ram Rahim. There were 15 prosecution witnesses in the case.