Looks like Asaram Bapu just ran out of blessings. The self-styled godman has been sentenced to life imprisonment till death by Jodhpur Court for raping a minor five years back. The decision was delivered in the makeshift courtroom at Jodhpur Central Jail where Asaram had been languishing since four years. Keeping in mind the widespread violence which occurred at the time of sentencing of Baba Ram Rahim Singh on similar charges, security had been increased in areas around Asaram’s ashrams. Security at Jodhpur Central Jail was also increased.
Facts of the Case
Victim studied in Asaram’s ashram in Chhindwara. When she fell ill her parents were informed that their child has been possessed by evil spirits and they should meet Asaram for remedy. On 14 August 2013, Parents took their daughter and travelled to Manai, Jodhpur to meet Asaram. On the night of August 15-16 parents of the girls were asked to leave the girl behind and move out of the ashram by Asaram. The prosecution claims it was then when the crime was committed. The girl was also threatened to not to share the events of the night with anyone. She narrated the happenings of the night to her father who tried to meet Asaram in Delhi but could not. Thereafter a zero-FIR was lodged against Asaram and his aides which was transferred to Jodhpur. Asaram booked in August 2013 and arrested a month later. His request for bail was rejected 6 times. 3 times in Rajasthan High Court and three times in Supreme Court.
Issues of the case
- Was Asaram and his aides were guilty of rape as defined under Indian Penal Code and other sections of POCSO(Protection of Children from Sexual Offences) Act and Juvenile Justice Act.
2.What should be the appropriate sentence for such a crime?
The decision of the Case
Asaram was charged under section 376 of Indian Penal Code, various section of the POCSO Act and Juvenile Justice Act. Special Judge Madhu Sudan Sharma, SC/ST Cases sentenced Asaram to life imprisonment till death and further handed a term of twenty years each to his two aides namely Sanchita alias Shilpi and Sharad Chandra and acquitted other two accused namely Prakash and Shiva were acquitted. Public Prosecutor Pokar Ram Bishnoi on the issue of quantum of sentence argued that being a trustee of a religious and educational institution, the way the accused sexually assaulted the victim as part of a conspiracy, there is need to give the strictest punishment in the case.
Followers of Asaram are deeply saddened by the decision. Father of the victim on other hand was satisfied with the verdict.
Learning of the Case
From this case, we learn that in a country governed by rule of law even godmen cannot escape the clutches of law. Law indeed has an extensive reach.