After a special CBI court in Panchkula convicted Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh in a rape case on Friday, the court will pronounce the quantum of punishment on Monday.
Director General of Police BS Sandhu said on Saturday that the sect chief would not be brought back to the Panchkula court over security concerns. "The sentencing will either be done through video conferencing or, if required, the court will be held there (Rohtak prison)," he said, adding that the judge (Jagdeep Singh) will be taken to Rohtak.
The punishment can be a jail term not less than seven years but may even extend to life imprisonment.
The sexual exploitation case was registered against the Dera chief in December 2002 by the CBI on the directions of the Punjab and Haryana High Court, after an anonymous letter was written to the then-chief justice about the alleged sexual exploitation of two sadhvis (female followers) by him.
The case was registered eight months after the then-chief justice received the letter. Ram Rahim is also an accused in two murder cases.
CBI filed the chargesheet against the Dera head in Ambala court in July 2007 around five years after the registration of the rape case. The chargesheet mentioned sexual exploitation of two sadhvis between 1999 and 2001.
The special CBI court framed charges against Ram Rahim under Sections 376 (rape) and 506 (criminal intimidation) of the Indian Penal Code in September 2008. Between 2009 and 2010, the two complainants recorded their statements before the court.
The court shifted from Ambala to Panchkula, and the case against Dera chief was also transferred to Panchkula CBI Court. In July 2017, the court ordered daily hearings, arguments of prosecution and defence concluded on 17 August, 2017. The judge then fixed 25 August as the date for pronouncement of the verdict and Ram Rahim was directed to appear in person before the court.
After Friday's conviction, Ram Rahim's supporters, many of whom were camping in different parts of Punjab and Haryana, attacked public property, leaving 36 dead and over 250 injured. The army, CRPF and the Rapid Action Force were called in.
The violence subsided on Saturday after restrictions were imposed in several parts of these states.
"The law-and-order situation is being maintained and constantly monitored in the entire state. As many as 101 companies of paramilitary forces have been deployed in the state, six columns of the army have been deployed in Panchkula and four in Sirsa. Curfew has been relaxed in Panchkula and Sirsa," chief secretary DS Dhesi said.
The Opposition stepped up its attack with former Haryana chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda demanding the dismissal of Manohar Lal Khattar government for its failure to handle the situation at Panchkula. Hooda also sought the imposition of President's Rule in the state.
The Khattar government also came under sharp criticism from the Punjab and Haryana High Court which castigated it over the deadly violence, saying it had "surrendered" before the followers of Dera Sacha Sauda head for "political considerations".
Dhesi said security has been beefed up in all neighbouring states ahead of Monday's sentencing to prevent more untoward incidents.
With inputs from agencies
Published Date: Aug 27, 2017 10:51 am | Updated Date: Aug 28, 2017 01:42 pm