Father of rape survivor moves SC, opposes bail plea of Asharam Bapu

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New Delhi, Jun 10 (PTI) Apprehending threat to the life of family members, father of the child rape-victim has moved the Supreme Court on Thursday opposing the bail plea of self-styled godman Asharam Bapu. The application for intervention has been filed in the pending petition of Asharam in which he has sought suspension of his sentence and interim bail to undergo treatment for various ailments at an ayurvedic centre near Haridwar in Uttarakhand.

A Jodhpur court, on April 25, 2018, had sentenced Asharam to life in prison after finding him guilty of raping a teenage girl in his ashram in 2013.

“It is humbly submitted that the petitioner (Asharam) is highly influential and politically connected and has a force of millions of blind followers around the country and also a hired killer Kartik Haldar who killed and attacked eyewitnesses confessed to the Police that Petitioner ordered the killings,” the father of rape survivor said in the application.

He said that till now 10 eyewitnesses have been attacked and in all likelihood if Asharam is granted bail he may organise revenge killing of the child rape victim and her family and eyewitnesses of case pending at Surat, Gujarat.

“Recently also, the applicant herein has been threatened by the followers/ henchmen of the petitioner (Asharam) and shockingly the State of Uttar Pradesh has reduced the security of the applicant and his family and they are again very vulnerable to murderous attacks by the followers/henchmen of the petitioner,” the application said.

The plea filed through advocate Utsav Bains said that in case Asharam is admitted to interim bail, there is likelihood that out of vengeance, he may get the applicant, his daughter and his family members killed.

“The petitioner (Asharam) herein has no regard to the rule of law and indulged in getting the prosecution witnesses threatened or eliminated who stood against him. And the Petitioner in all likelihood would do the same and with greater impunity and ease when granted bail and is out of Jail. It is humbly submitted that the petitioner herein does not deserve any leniency and his bail application is liable to be dismissed,” the plea said.

Rajasthan government has also told the top court that Asharam Bapu, serving a life term in two rape cases in a Jodhpur jail, is fit and stable but trying to change the venue of his custody on the pretext of medical treatment.

Asharam is serving varying jail terms including life sentences in two sexual assault cases.

“The accused/petitioner (Asharam) with ulterior motives has been attempting to change the venue of his custody, under the guise of medical treatment. Such change, with due respect, is an abuse of the process of law,” the state government said in an affidavit.

“The accused is also deliberately delaying the pending trial at Gandhi Nagar as well as Jodhpur, raising such pleas with mala fides whereas he is stable and fit,” it said.

It also said Asharam was tested positive for COVID-19 on May 6 and was having mild symptoms, with low-grade fever and was treated properly.

On June 4, the apex court had sought the Rajasthan government's response to Asharam’s plea for the court’s permission for the treatment at an ayurvedic centre near Haridwar.

The top court had then orally observed that it was not inclined to grant interim bail by suspending the self-styled godman's sentence.

Ashram had sought the suspension of his sentence for two months saying he needed to get “holistic” treatment of his multiple ailments at a medical centre near Haridwar.

Asharam has moved the apex court, challenging the Rajasthan High Court order which had earlier dismissed his plea for the suspension of his sentences to undergo treatment at a medical centre of his choice.

The plea was filed through lawyer Saurabh Ajay Gupta.

Asharam's accomplices Sharad and Shilpi were also sentenced to 20 years in jail by the court in the 2013 case for their roles.

The teenager had said in her complaint that Asharam had called her to his ashram in Manai area near Jodhpur and raped her on the night of August 15, 2013.

The 16-year-old girl from Shahjahanpur of Uttar Pradesh was studying at Asharam's ashram in Chhindwara in Madhya Pradesh.

He was also convicted in a 2002 rape case and sentenced to 20 years in prison.

Asharam is also facing a rape case in Surat in Gujarat. He was arrested in Indore and brought to Jodhpur on September 1, 2013, and is in judicial custody since then. PTI MNL ABA SJK MNL RKS RKS

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