Asaram, a self-styled 'godman' who is reverred by his supporters and commonly referred to as Asaram 'Bapu', was convicted and given life term by a Jodhpur court on Wednesday for raping a teenager at his ashram near Jodhpur in 2013. Two aides of the godman, who were convicted too, have been given 20 years (each) imprisonment.
Two other aides of Asaram were acquitted, reports said. Special Judge (SC/ST court) Madhusudhan Sharma delivered the verdict in the Jodhpur Central jail premises.
According to CNN-News18, one of the convicted aides is likely to appeal against the verdict in the high court. Asaram could be jailed for a minimum of 10 years or awarded a maximum life term, according to prosecution lawyers. According to latest reports, the defence lawyers have been arguing for minimum punishment on the grounds that the accused (Asaram) has done several charitable work in his life.
The survivor, in her complaint, had said that Asaram had called her to his ashram in Manai area near Jodhpur and raped her on the night of 15 August, 2013. The father of the survivor welcomed the judgment, saying he hoped the witnesses who were murdered or kidnapped also got justice.
Asaram is convicted, we have got justice. I want to thank everyone who supported us in this fight. Now I hope he will get strict punishment. I also hope the witnesses who were murdered or kidnapped get justice: Father of Shahjahanpur victim #AsaramCaseVerdict pic.twitter.com/sUJ3atJJJY
— ANI (@ANI) April 25, 2018
The father of the rape survivor welcomed the judgment, saying he hoped the witnesses who were murdered or kidnapped also got justice. 101Reporters' Asif Ali also reported that the survivor also welcomed the decision. "I am happy with the court's decision," she said, adding that the wait for four years was a long time.
Final arguments in the case had been completed by the special court for SC/ST cases on 7 April and the court had kept the order reserved for Wednesday. The 77-year-old Asaram was arrested in Indore and brought to Jodhpur on 1 September, 2013. He is under judicial custody since 2 September, 2013.
The chargesheet against Asaram and four other co-accused Shiva, Shilpi, Sharad and Prakash was filed by the police on 6 November, 2013 under various sections of the POSCO Act, Juvenile Justice Act and IPC. Asaram is also facing a rape case in Surat in Gujarat in which the Supreme Court earlier this month gave five weeks time to the prosecution to complete the trial.
Asaram unsuccessfully moved 12 bail applications, of which six were rejected by the trial court, three by the Rajasthan High Court and three by the Supreme Court.
With inputs from PTI
Updated Date: Apr 25, 2018 14:46 PM