Dissatisfied with the investigations carried out by the Haryana police into the complaint of alleged castration of 400 dera followers against Sirsa-based Dera Sacha Sauda head Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh, the Punjab and Haryana high court has handed over the probe to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).
The bench of justice K Kannan came down heavily on the state police in its order on Tuesday and observed that the police had done no credit to themselves by allowing “grass to grow under its feet and nibbling at the periphery” and conducting investigation which was worthless. “I am not surprised at the petitioner’s apprehension that they feel overwhelmed by the large following that Gurmeet Ram Rahim has within or without the state,” justice Kannan observed in its order.
The high court has directed the CBI to register a case against the dera head and file a periodic report with the high court from time to time. The first interim report has to be filed by March 2. The high court also appointed senior advocate Anupam Gupta as amicus curiae in the case. Gupta is assisting another bench of the high court in the contempt proceedings against Rampal of Satlok ashram, Barwala, Hisar.
The high court took note of the fact that for the past 12 years there has been a trial going on in three other cases in which Ram Rahim is the accused and the state police have been complaining of a law and order problem in case the accused is to be brought to court. The high court recorded that the dera head did not appear in person during the hearings in these cases for the past one year and also sought exemptions from recording statements through video. It noted that a large number of people said to have been affected (in castration case) could be spread over several states, so the case be handed over to the CBI.
The court held that castration is a serious act and also quoted the United Nations general assembly resolution on this. “The issue of whether castration will make room for salvation cannot be a matter of faith, the same way as whether a person is dead or in a trance akin to samadhi cannot be a matter of faith. Superstitions are now a constitutional anathema. Courts cannot be privies to perpetration of harm on blind faith in the name of religion,” the high court observed while referring to another controversy involving another dera, Divya Jyoti Jagriti Sansthan, where the body of dera head Ashutosh is lying in a freezer since January.
Fatehabad resident Hansraj Chauhan, an ex-dera follower, had approached the high court seeking a CBI probe alleging that 400 dera followers had been castrated in the dera on the promise that it would lead to realisation of god. He had also given a list of 166 people. The court had constituted a medical board to examine him, which did not rule out the possibility of castration. The Haryana police also examined seven people named by Chauhan, who admitted to having been castrated but refused to undergo a medical examination and also did not blame the dera head for it. The high court in November had asked the Haryana police to probe the matter. However, dissatisfied over the handling of the case by the state police, the high court had reserved the judgment on December 17.