New Delhi: A self-styled godman Asaram was on Wednesday sentenced to life imprisonment by Jodhpur court after holding him guilty of raping a teenage girl in his ashram five years ago.
After Dera Sacha Sauda head Gurmeet Ram Rahim, Asaram is the second powerful spiritual leader being convicted
Special judge Madhusudan Sharma’s verdict, which comes as the debate over sexual violence, particularly the rape of minors, intensifies across the country, was read out in the Jodhpur Central Jail where 77-year-old Asaram has been kept for over four years.
The special court for SC/ST cases convicted two other accused, Shilpi and Sharad and sentenced them to 20 years in jail. However, the court acquitted two, Prakash and Shiva.
The lawyers of Asaram have said that they will move Rajasthan High Court to get a bail.
Former Jodhpur DGP Ajay Pal Lamba, who headed the investigation took to Facebook to hail the verdict and said that finally, truth prevailed.
“Judgement is a landmark in criminal jurisprudence in the country. It is heartening to witness that if the law of land is implemented impartially, then even weakest can afford to take on the mights of most influential person like Asaram. Kudos to the whole team who was associated with me in taking this case to its logical conclusion in the most efficient and professional manner despite all odds,” he wrote in a post.
The father of the teenager expressed satisfaction over the Jodhpur court verdict convicting the self-styled godman and
“I am happy to get justice, I thank the judiciary and the media for it,” the rape victim’s father said after Asaram’s conviction by a Jodhpur court.
“For the past four years, our family members had not been coming out (of our house)…it is satisfying that the verdict has gone against him,” he said.
Speaking about the hardships faced by the family during the trial of the case, he said he was given “allurements and life threats” “…his (Asaram’s) men asked me to go before the media and say that he is innocent and the court will free him and they will give me as much money as I want…with police security at our place, threats were also sent through our relatives,” he said.
Final arguments in the Asaram case were completed on April 7 and the court had kept the order reserved for April 25.
Asaram was arrested in Indore and brought to Jodhpur on September 1, 2013. He was under judicial custody since September 2, 2013. 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.