Asaram case: Fearing violence, govt seeks order be pronounced in jail

The state government filed an application in the Rajasthan high court, urging that the judgment in a rape case against self-styled godman Asaram Bapu be pronounced in the Jodhpur central jail considering law and order problems

jaipur Updated: Apr 13, 2018 22:40 IST
Dinesh Bothra
Dinesh Bothra
Hindustan Times, Jodhpur
Rajasthan News
Asaram looks out from the police van while on way to attend the hearing in a court in Jodhpur.(HT File)

The state government filed an application in the Rajasthan high court, urging that the judgment in a rape case against self-styled godman Asaram Bapu be pronounced in the Jodhpur central jail considering law and order problems.

On April 7, a special SC/ST court in Jodhpur reserved its order for April 25 in the case after the final arguments that stretched for over five months were completed.

A minor girl had in August 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 ashram. Asaram was arrested on August 31, 2013 and sent to the Jodhpur central jail.

“Intelligence inputs have indicated that on the judgment day thousands of followers are likely to gather in Jodhpur from different parts of the country. Such followers in huge numbers are likely to disrupt daily activities of local citizens,” additional advocate general (AAG) Shiv Kumar Vyas said in the high court.

“They (followers) may indulge in violence and create serious law and order situation in Jodhpur city. This may cause immense loss of property and human lives. It may seriously impair the functioning of local courts also.”

During the hearing on Friday, a division bench of justice Gopal Krishna Vyas and justice Ramchandra Singh Jhala asked Asaram’s counsel Mahesh Bora to submit his reply to the state government’s application by Tuesday.

The government cited the example of Baba Gurmeet Ram Rahim, who was sentenced to 20 years in jail for raping two women. The sentence was pronounced in Sunaria jail, Rohtak, after an order from the Punjab and Haryana high court. A special court was set up on the jail premises to prevent violence by his followers.

Asaram’s counsel had given an undertaking in the Rajasthan HC on May 1 last year that no nuisance would be created on the court campus. Asaram will instruct his followers not to enter the court premises, and also not to follow the vehicle carrying the accused persons from the central jail to the court and from the court to the jail, the counsel said.

Despite the undertaking, AAG Vyas said, Asaram’s followers have been creating nuisance during the hearing.

“On the dates of hearing, when Asaram was taken to the court, a huge crowd used to assemble there and create a difficult situation to maintain law and order. Even on return from the court, the followers used to block the police vehicles in which Asaram was being taken,” said police commissioner Ashok Rathore. “The police personnel on duty worked hard to maintain law and order.”

In November 2013, the Jodhpur police filed a charge sheet against Asaram and four co-accused booking them under relevant sections of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act and the Scheduled Castes and Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act. Asaram was also booked for human trafficking.

Public prosecutor Pokar Ram said the prosecution examined 44 of the total 58 witnesses, while defence examined 31 witnesses.

Asaram is also facing a rape case in Gujarat.

Earlier, the Supreme Court had refused to grant bail to Asaram in two sexual assault cases. Two Surat-based sisters had lodged separate complaints against Asaram and his son Narayan Sai, accusing them of rape and illegal confinement, among other charges.

First Published: Apr 13, 2018 22:40 IST