On a day when the Punjab and Haryana high court refused to stay the release of his debut movie, Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh faced a setback too, in a rape case from 2002.
The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) special court, Haryana, on Wednesday allowed only five defence witnesses out of 23 names submitted by him. The case is based on a complaint by two woman followers of the Sirsa-based sect head.
“The court has now allowed Sudesh and Navninder, two woman followers; one of the Dera’s managers Mohan Singh; a handwriting expert and a former deputy superintendent of police (DSP) Rai Singh, to appear as defence witnesses,” informed CBI counsel HPS Verma.
“We are examining the order, and will then decide whether to file an appeal,” reacted SK Garg Narwana, counsel for Ram Rahim.
It is important to mention here that CBI special judge RK Yadav had ordered on November 15 that since 28 defence witnesses had already been examined, just one more witness would be allowed. It pointed out that Ram Rahim was delaying the trial.
Against that, the dera chief approached the HC where justice Daya Chaudhary ordered that he must give a list of 24 witnesses before the trial court by showing their relevancy. “In case the [trial] court comes to the conclusion that some of the witnesses are not necessary to be examined, then the defence version be heard and necessary order be passed after hearing the accused party,” the HC had said.
Ram Rahim thus submitted a list of 24, one of whom had been examined. After arguments thereafter, the CBI special court allowed for examining only five witnesses out of the remaining 23.
The case had come about after anonymous letters addressed to then prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and chief justice of Punjab and Haryana high court were circulated, alleging sexual exploitation of female followers at Dera Sacha Sauda in Sirsa. On September 24, 2002, the HC had handed over the case to the CBI. The chargesheet was filed on July 30, 2007.