The court of chief judicial magistrate (CJM) Raman Kumar here on Wednesday asked Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh to appear in person on August 8 in a case related to him allegedly dressing up as the tenth Sikh guru, Gobind Singh, and thus hurting religious sentiments.
Jatinder Roy Khattar, counsel for complainant Rajinder Singh Sidhu, said the court asked the Sirsa-based dera chief to appear so that charges could be framed and the trial formally started. It also asked the sect head to apply for regular bail.
The matter dates back seven years. At a dera congregation in Salabatpura in Bathinda on May 13, 2007, the dera chief had performed the ceremony of Jaam-e-Insaan ('drink of humanity') to seven dera 'premis' ('lovers' or dera followers) on the lines of the 1699 ceremony done by the Guru Gobind Singh in which 'panj piaras' (five chosen ones) were baptised as an initiation into the formal Khalsa Panth (pure Sikh religion). Violent clashes between the dera's followers and a section of the Sikhs were witnessed after that.
A case for hurting religious sentiments and promoting enmity between different communities, under sections 295A, 153A and 298 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) was registered against the dera chief at the Kotwali police station in Bathinda on a complaint by president of Khalsa Guru Singh Sabha, Rajinder Singh Sidhu on May 20, 2007.
The Punjab police on January 27, 2012, three days before the state assembly elections, submitted its probe report, but also an affidavit which it claimed had been given by the complainant asking for cancellation of the FIR. However, Sidhu appeared before the court after the voting and disowned the affidavit on February 4, 2012.
The court thus rejected the police affidavit about FIR cancellation, and effectively accepted its probe report as the chargesheet.
On April 2, 2012, the CJM court directed the dera head to appear in person on May 10, 2012. But his counsels filed a revision petition against the order in the court of the additional district and sessions judge and requested for quashing the case, citing delay in filing of the chargesheet.
The court rejected the appeal and the dera chief's lawyers approached the Punjab and Haryana high court.
The HC did quash the orders of summoning the dera head, but asked the petitioners to plead before the trial court for quashing the case. After that, arguments in the case were held on April 15 this year in the CJM court here.
The counsels for the complainant argued that as the maximum punishment under section 153A was of five years' imprisonment, and there was no limitation period on filing the chargehseet for an offence punishable with more than three years' imprisonment, the case stands.