HindustanTimes Thu,18 Sep 2014

CBI court raps Dera chief over repeated pleas for exemption

Bhartesh Singh Thakur, Hindustan Times  Panchkula, July 09, 2014
First Published: 07:34 IST(9/7/2014) | Last Updated: 07:37 IST(9/7/2014)

The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) special court, Haryana, here on Tuesday dismissed three applications of Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh for taking exemption from court proceedings in three cases against him — rape case involving two victims, Ram Chander Chhatrapati murder case and Ranjit Singh murder case.

Dera chief, who appears before the CBI court through video conferencing from Sirsa’s session court in all the three cases against him, moved the court for exemption from appearance even by video conferencing. He submitted through his counsel Vishal Garg Narwana that he was attacked on February 2, 2008, and May 9, 2008 by various groups. He said that he could be attacked by some militant group as per monthly intelligence digest on VIP security (December 2012) and added that he had to go to several places in order to deliver religious discourses.

The CBI opposed the applications saying presence of accused on each date of hearing “is a matter of rule and exemption on particular date is an exception”. Counsel for CBI HPS Verma informed, “We told the court that no permanent exemption could be granted in a criminal trial and Dera chief is an accused in two murder and one rape cases. The letter and newspaper cuttings are procured and manipulated by him in league with the local police. He has been moving across the country for his programmes when he has no threat to his life while moving for other purpose, he should not be granted any exemption through video conferencing and the applications be dismissed.”

While dismissing the applications, CBI special judge, Haryana, Rakesh Yadav, said, “Since January 2014, the accused is filing application [sic] for seeking exemption from appearance through video conferencing on each date on account of one reason or the other. The reasons mentioned by him are that he had to attend some function for religious discourse. In my opinion, it appears that as and when date is fixed, the accused is taking benefit of his alleged discourse whereas the accused could have fixed his date in accordance with the date given by the court in this case.”

He added, “In nut-shell, it appears that accused is trying to avoid his appearance even through video conferencing. Now the accused is filing application for permanent exemption of his appearance through video conferencing during the trial which is not warranted in any case.”

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