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Rajasthan high court suspends Asaram aide’s 20-year jail sentence, gives bail

Asaram Bapu was sentenced to life imprisonment for the 2013 rape in April 2018 while his two aides got 20 years each.

india Updated: Sep 29, 2018 17:53 IST
Asaram rape case,Asaram aide gets bail,Rajasthan High Court Asaram case
A minor girl had in August 16, 2013 accused Asaram Bapu of rape at his ashram in Manai village near Jodhpur. (HT/File Photo)

The Rajasthan high court on Saturday suspended the 20-year-sentence of Shilpi Gupta alias Sanchita, a key aide of self-styled godman Asaram Bapu and co-convict in the case of sexual exploitation of a teenage girl.

The high court granted bail to Gupta on the personal bond of Rs 2 lakh with two sureties of Rs 1 lakh.

The special court for POCSO (Protection of Children from Sexual Offences) Act cases had on April 25 sentenced Asaram Bapu to life imprisonment till his death. His two aides, Gupta and Sharad were sentenced to 20 years each.

Gupta had filed an appeal in the high court against her conviction along with an application for suspension of the sentence. The hearing on the matter was completed on September 26 and the court had reserved its judgment.

Justice Vijay Bishnoi, pronouncing his judgment Saturday, said taking into consideration the facts and circumstances of the case, this court felt that her challenge to her conviction for the offences under various sections of the Indian Penal Code and the POCSO Act was “based on strong grounds”.

He noted that since Gupta was a young woman, she was granted bail during trial and it is not reported that she misused its conditions.

“I consider it just and proper to suspend the substantive sentence to the appellant. She will appear before the trial court in the month of January of every year till the appeal is decided,” he said in his order.

A minor girl had in August 16, 2013 accused Asaram of rape at his ashram in Manai village near Jodhpur. The girl, who belonged to Shahjahanpur in Uttar Pradesh, was a student living in the Chhindwara ashram (hostel) in Madhya Pradesh.

When the girl fainted at school one day, Gupta, who was the hostel warden, told the parents that she was possessed by ‘evil spirits’ and should be sent to Asaram’s ashram to be exorcised. At Asaram’s Jodhpur retreat, they were told that he would banish evil spirits in an hour alone with her.

Asaram was arrested on September 1, 2013 and sent to the Jodhpur central jail. In November 2013, the Jodhpur police filed charge sheet against him and four others, accusing them of rape, sexual exploitation and human trafficking apart from offences under POCSO Act.

First Published: Sep 29, 2018 17:53 IST