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Charges framed against Dera chief

india Updated: Sep 06, 2008 16:55 IST

IANS
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A court in Haryana's Ambala city Saturday framed charges against Dera Sacha Sauda sect chief Gurmit Ram Rahim Singh for the alleged rape of a female religious follower.

Gurmit Ram Rahim Singh was present Saturday in the special Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) court. During the last two hearings, he had not been present.

The court framed charges against the Dera chief under the Indian Penal Code sections dealing with criminal intimidation, rape and outraging the woman's modesty.

The CBI had submitted its charge sheet against the Dera chief accusing him of rape of a young female religious follower at his sect headquarters campus near Sirsa town in Haryana, 250 km from here.

The sect chief's lawyer Thursday filed a petition in the Punjab and Haryana High Court in Chandigarh challenging the framing of charges against him in the alleged case of sexual exploitation of a woman follower.

The Punjab and Haryana High Court Thursday dismissed his plea but gave him liberty to raise these issues before the trial court in Ambala.

The sect chief is facing two charges of murder conspiracy, including the murder of Sirsa-based journalist Ram Chander Chhatrapati in Oct 2001 and sect manager Ranjit Singh in July 2002, and one case of rape of a 'sadhvi' (female religious follower).

The Dera chief has been involved in a major controversy since April last year after he appeared attired like 10th Sikh guru, Gobind Singh.