Jodhpur: Self-styled godman Asaram, who was convicted by a Jodhpur court in a 2013 rape case on Wednesday, has been sent to jail for life. The Jodhpur court also sent two of the four accused in the case to jail for 20 years and let free the remaining two.
The court pronounced the quantum of punishment in the 2013 high profile rape case today afternoon. The entire proceedings took place at a makeshift court in Jodhpur jail.
The defence had sought minimum punishment for Asaram arguing that he is not a repeat offender but could not convince the judge.
Asaram has been given a life sentence under Section 6 of the POCSO, this means he will spend the rest of his life behind bars. Asaram has been convicted under sections 370, 376, POCSO, 120 B, 342 and 354. These sections are — Sexual Assault, Outraging a woman's modesty, POCSO, wrongful confinement and criminal conspiracy.
Of the four accused in the case, the Jodhpur Special Court sentenced Shilpi and Sharad to 20 years each in jail. Shiva and Prakash, the other two accused in the case, have been acquitted.
Asaram's lawyers said they will file his bail plea in Rajasthan High Court tomorrow. They expressed hope that Asaram will get the bail. "Earlier, getting bail was difficult as he was an undertrial. Now that we have an order, we'll push hard for Asaram's bail," a lawyer said.
Special Judge (SC/ST court) Madhusudhan Sharma on Wednesday delivered the verdict in the Jodhpur Central jail premises in the morning. He pronounced the quantum of punishment later in the day.
Asaram was arrested on August 31, 2013, after a teenage girl alleged that she was subjected to sexual assault by the self-styled guru when she stayed at the Ashram in Mani village. The victim was a resident of Shahjahanpur in Uttar Pradesh and was a student there.
The teenage girl was the first to level allegations against Asaram, after which two sisters from Surat alleged they were raped by him as well. The victim had said in her complaint that Asaram called her to his ashram in Manai area near Jodhpur and raped her on the night of August 15, 2013.
“He told me he was god, I should offer myself to him and started touching me. I was told my parents and I would not live if I made a scene. He said I was on the path to success and would be made a sevika", the victim said in her testimony.
The victim's mother said, “We could not have imagined that a person whom we considered god could do this to my daughter. We are never going to have a normal life."
The chargesheet against Asaram and four other co-accused Shiva, Shilpi, Sharad and Prakash was filed by the police on November 6, 2013 under various sections of the POSCO Act, Juvenile Justice Act and IPC. 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, according to PTI.
Neelam Dubey, a spokesperson for Asaram, was quoted by news agency ANI as saying that they will "respect the court order" and will "move ahead within the system".
The conviction of Asaram came days after the union government brought in an ordinance providing death to rapists of minors below 12 years of age and speedy trial of rape cases. The government brought in the ordinance after nationwide outrage against rising rape cases in the country.
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