Gurmeet Ram Rahim was revered like god...acted like beast, says judge
A CBI court on Monday sentenced self-styled godman Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh to 20 years in jail and fined him Rs 30 lakh for raping two disciples, saying he acted like a “wild beast” and didn’t even spare his “pious” followers.
Handing out a 20-year rigorous imprisonment to Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh, convicted for raping his two “sadhvis” (female followers), a special Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) court on Monday said the convict does not deserve leniency as he did not spare his pious disciples and acted like a wild beast.
“In other words, he’s a man who neither has concern for humanity nor has any mercy in his nature,’’ said CBI special judge Jagdeep Singh, pronouncing the quantum of sentence from the makeshift court in Rohtak’s Sunaria jail.
Making scathing remarks on Ram Rahim, the judge said if the acts of convict in sexually exploiting his female disciples and threatening them with dire consequences were taken note of, then such kind of person do not deserve any sympathy of the court.
“Both the victims had put Ram Rahim on the pedestal of God and revered him like that. However, he committed breach of gravest nature by sexually assaulting such gullible and blind followers. Such criminal acts of convict, who is stated to be heading a religious organisation — Dera Sacha Sauda at Sirsa — are bound to shatter image of pious sacred spiritual, social, cultural and religious institutions existing in the country since time immemorial. This, in turn, reflects irreparable damages caused by the acts of convict to the heritage of ancient land,” the judge said in his order.
Reasons for jail term
Justifying the quantum of punishment, the judge referred to the Supreme Court judgments. He said the fundamental purpose of imposition of sentence is based on the principal that the convict must realise that the crime committed by him has not created only a dent on the life of victims, but a concavity in the social fabric. The purpose of just punishment is designed so that the individuals in the society, which ultimately constitute the collective, do not suffer time and again for such crimes. It serves as a deterrent, the court said.
Quoting another apex court order of 2014, the CBI court said it is the duty of the court to impose adequate sentence, for one of the purposes of imposition of requisite sentence is protection of the society and legitimate response to the collective conscious. In a way, it is an obligation to the society, which has reposed faith in the court of law to curtail evil.
While imposing the sentence, it’s the court’s accountability to remind itself about its role and reverence for the rule of law. It must evince the rationalised judicial discretion and not an individual perception and moral propensity.
Court’s view on mercy
It has also been observed by the apex court that old saying “law can hunt ones past” cannot be allowed to be buried in an indecent manner and the rainbow of mercy, for no fathomable reason, should be allowed to rule. The conception of mercy has its own space but it cannot occupy the whole accommodation. Further, it has also been observed that though punishment is designed to protect the society by deterring potential offenders as also by preventing the guilty party from repeating the offence, it is also designed to reform the offender and reclaim his as law abiding citizen for the good of the society, said the court
Reformatory, deterrent, and the punitive aspect of punishment thus play their due part in judicial thinking while determining the question of awarding appropriate sentence, the judge said in his order.
Baba cites ailments, welfare works in his defence
Earlier, the dera chief had pleaded for a lesser sentence on the grounds that he has completed 50 years and is suffering from hypertension, acute diabetes and spinal disc problem leading to severe backache for the past eight years. His long incarceration hence would adversely affect his health. He also placed on record medical treatment documents. Gurmeet also pleaded that he has an elderly mother who is suffering from various age-related diseases.
Citing his welfare works, the dera head said he has motivated thousands of people to do social works, such as plantation drives. “The convict is carrying out social works in Haryana, when the state government has failed to do so,” his counsel claimed before court.
He also argued that the convict motivated people to marry prostitutes, played commendable role in drug de-addiction and 133 welfare works were in progress under his guidance. He also brought on record a booklet of social works undertaken by the dera and made a reference to various commendation certificates received for good deeds.
No dearth of wealth, made frequent visits abroad
Quoting yet another apex court judgment, the CBI court said that after order of conviction, it is mandatory duty of the court to consider the question of award of compensation to victim of crime. However, it is the discretion of the court to award or not to award the compensation. It has been further held that Section 357 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) confers a duty on the court to apply its mind to the question of compensation in every criminal case.
Disclosure of application of mind is best demonstrated by recording reason in support of the order or conclusion. The SC has also held that Section 357 of the CrPC does not impose any limitation on power of the court to award compensation, but such jurisdiction cannot be exercised at the whims and caprice of a judge. Before issuing a direction to pay compensation, the capacity of the accused to pay the same must be judged.
Gurmeet Ram Rahim is stated to be head of the Dera Sacha Sauda, which runs a number of institutions, and where more than 78,000 people are working, the convict moved several application during the course of the trial seeking permission to visit abroad for the purpose of promotion of films directed and produced by him. While moving the application, the convict himself pleaded that millions were spent in producing such films for the promotion of which he had sought permission to visit abroad and has also visited many times. All these facts clearly establish that the convict has no dearth of wealth and has enough financial resources to pay to compensate victims of his criminal acts, the judge said.
Thus, besides rigorous imprisonment, he is also directed to pay a fine of ₹15 lakh each for committing offence under Section 376 (rape) of the Indian Penal Code. It is further directed that of the fine of ₹15 lakh each, an amount of ₹14 lakh each shall be paid to both the victims for their rehabilitation.