Report on Conviction of Asharam
Self-styled Godman Asaram Bapu was today sentenced to life-long jail term by a special SC/ST court here for raping a minor nearly five years ago. This is the second case of a powerful spiritual leader being convicted of a sexual offence in less than a year after Gurmeet Ram Rahim last August.
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 acquitted two, Prakash and Shiva. (PTI)
Asaram was arrested by the Jodhpur police on August 3, 2013 after allegations of sexually assaulting a minor girl, 16 years old, in his ashram in Jodhpur on the pretext of exorcising her of evil spirits.
The police had said that the girl was taken to the ashram in Manai in August 2013 for a “nightly ritual” where she and Asaram were alone in the room.
She had also alleged that he had threatened the girl and asked her to keep quiet about the incident. The girl told her her parents about the incident two days after the incident after which they filed a complaint against him in Delhi.
The Survivor parents had also said that they were continuously threatened by Asaram’s followers after his arrest.
The father of the girl had told PTI in 2016, “His men have been calling us consistently and saying that they would be putting in every effort to keep the trial lingering by moving one application after another.”
In December 2017, reports said that Asaram’s followers had distributed more than 20,000 copies of a magazine in Uttar Pradesh’s Shahjahanpur in which they claimed that he was framed.
An FIR was registered within days against Asaram, his daughter Bhagwan Bharti and 10 other followers for criminal intimidation.
Charges on Asharam:-
Asaram has been framed under sections 342, 354A, 370(4), 376(2)f, 376D, 506, 509/34 and 120 (B) of IPC and sections 23 & 26 of Juvenile Justice Act and Section 5(f)/6, 5(g)/6 and 7/8 of Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act. Rest of the accused had been framed under same sections except Section 109/120(B) instead of just 120(B) and Section 7/8 read with Section 17 of POCSO Act instead of just Section 7/8 of POCSO Act. Shiva and Prakash had not been framed under Juvenile Justice Act.
After reading of charges, counsel of Asaram moved two applications in the court praying to make available the visuals of the victim recorded by an ASI of Kamla Nagar police station at New Delhi and the call details of the communication between accused and the victim’s parents. Earlier also, the defense has demanded from the court the recorded visuals of the spot of crime, which the lower court had granted permission to but was challenged by the prosecution in the high court.
By: Mrinal Raj, ICFAI Law School, Dehradun