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Decision on court appearance of Ram Rahim likely on Feb 8

HT Correspondent  Bathinda, February 01, 2013
First Published: 22:10 IST(1/2/2013) | Last Updated: 22:12 IST(1/2/2013)

A local court can decide on February 8 if Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh, head of Dera Sacha Sauda in Sirsa, should appear here to defend the charge of hurting the Sikh sentiments by dressing similar to Guru Gobind Singh.

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On the additional sessions judge's staying the orders of the chief judicial magistrate (CJM) to summon the dera head to Bathinda, the arguments concluded on Friday. Both sides expect the final decision on the next hearing on February 8. In a surprise move three days before the last state election on January 30, 2012, the police had moved an application here for the cancellation of the case against the dera head, stating that the affidavit of the witness, Rajinder Singh Sidhu, was fake.

The Bathinda police had also claimed in the court that it had no evidence or witness to prove that the dera had organised any controversial congregation at Slabtpura on May 30, 2007, and so it could not prosecute Ram Rahim in a case of hurting the religious sentiments of Sikhs.

However, the statement did not help the police get rid of the case, as the CJM rejected their cancellation report and told the dera head to appear before him on April 2, 2012.

The dera head moved the district and sessions court against the CJM's orders. The case was, later, moved to the additional session judge and a stay order came on the summons.

"We have repeated in the court that we have enough proof to prosecute the dera head," said Jatinder Rai Khattar, lawyer of Sikh bodies. "We are hopeful of a decision on the next hearing," "The dera respects Guru Gobind Singh," said SK Garg, the counsel of Ram Rahim. "There is no question of hurting Sikh sentiments. Arguments are over and a verdict is expected on the next hearings."

Timeline

May 13, 2007: Rajinder Singh Sidhu, Shiromani Akali Dal leader in Bathinda, lodges a complaint that the dera head, Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh, hurt Sikh sentiments; and the police register a case under Section 295 (A) (deliberate and malicious act to outrage religious feelings by insulting any religion) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC)

June 10, 2007: FIR is registered against the dera head; the-then inspector general of police, Patiala zone, finds enough evidence in the preliminary investigation to prosecute the dera head; and sections 153(A) (promoting enmity between different groups) and 298 (uttering words with deliberate intent to hurt religious feelings) are added to the FIR

July 27, 2007: The secretary in the Punjab department of home and justice allows Bathinda police to prosecute Ram Rahim in a local court.

July 30, 2007: The dera head is arrested and released on bail simultaneously; he submits in the Punjab and Haryana high court that he addressed a congregation at Slabtpura near Bathinda on May 13, 2007, but did not hurt anyone's religious sentiments; the-then senior superintendent of police, Naunihal Singh, submits affidavit in the high court that the police had enough evidence to prove the guilt of Ram Rahim.

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