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Asaram Bapu asked to appear before panel on ashram deaths

Monday May 09, 2011 09:56:28 PM, IANS

Gandhinagar: An inquiry commission, probing the mysterious death in 2008 of two boys studying in Asaram Bapu's Ahmedabad ashram, Monday set June 6 as the deadline for the spiritual leader and his son Narayan Sai to appear before it.

Justice D.K. Trivedi asked the counsel for Asaram to ensure before May 23 and inform the date when the duo would appear before the panel, though in any case before June 6. The commission indicated that if the two fail to comply with the direction, then a warrant for their arrest may be issued.

Asaram's lawyer has urged the commission to summon Bharatiya Janata Party leader L.K. Advani, Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi and Gujarat Congress leader Arjun Modhwadia, as witnesses. It was argued that Modhwadia had earlier stated that Advani was 'trying to play down the case to keep Modi's name in the running as prospective future prime minister'. The hearing on this issue is slated for May 12.

Cousins Dipesh and Abhishek Waghela were found dead in July 2008 on the Sabarmati riverbank behind the ashram with their bodies mutilated.

The incident had led to a public outcry with allegations of ritualistic sacrifices and a demand for a thorough probe.

The parents sought a CBI probe from the Gujarat High Court. The court simultaneously heard the petition filed by seven sadhaks or ashram office bearers who demanded quashing of the FIR against them.

While Justice Akil Kureshi refused to hand over the probe to CBI, he struck down the culpable homicide section (304 of IPC) from the FIR which has stringent penalty and permitted the probe agency - CID (crime), to retain the rash and negligent act section (304A), 34, 114 of IPC along with section 23 of the Juvenile Justice Act.

The high court concluded that the seven sadhaks should not be considered accused for culpable homicide, but they prima facie seemed accused of showing negligence which resulted in death, for the kids were in their custody.

Parents of the deceased then approached the Supreme Court challenging the high court's decision. The apex court, after a preliminary hearing of their appeal, issued show-cause notice to the Gujarat government and CBI.

In 2008, the state government set up a one-member inquiry commission to probe into the death of the kids.





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