Rajasthan police asks HC to advance Asaram case verdict

Asaram case: Raj police moves HC, appeals for verdict on Apr 17 to avoid law & order situation

The Rajasthan Police has moved the high court, seeking a direction to the trial court hearing the rape case against self-styled godman Asaram to pronounce the judgment on April 17.

The police in its plea said a huge number of Asaram's followers would be in the city on April 25, when the special SC/ST Court in Jodhpur is scheduled to pronounce the judgement in the case.

"We have moved an application for the pronouncement of judgment in the case on April 17 instead of April 25 in view of the threat to the law and order situation in the city," said Additional Advocate General S K Vyas.

A bench of Justice G K Vyas and Justice Ram Chandra Singh Jhala posted the matter for hearing on April 17 after the defence sought time for reply.

The police said it would be appropriate to pronounce the order in a "jail court for the safety and security of the public and Asaram himself".

The special SC/ST Court had on April 7 reserved its order for April 25 in the 2012 rape case against Asaram after the final arguments were completed.

A teenage girl had accused Asaram of sexual assault at his ashram in Manai village near Jodhpur. The girl, who belonged to Shahjahanpur in Uttar Pradesh, was a student living in the ashram.

Asaram, who is in jail since August 31, 2013, was charged under relevant sections of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act and the Scheduled Castes and Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act.

If convicted, Asaram faces a maximum sentence of 10 years, victim's counsel P C Solanki said.

He is also facing a rape case in Gujarat.

Earlier, the apex court had refused to grant bail to Asaram on various grounds in the two sexual assault cases lodged in Rajasthan and Gujarat.

The Supreme Court had on April 6 pulled up the Gujarat Police for the delay in completion of recording of evidence in one of the rape cases against self-styled preacher lodged in the Jodhpur jail, and directed it to conclude the process within five weeks.

Asaram's counsel on January 15 told the court that in the Gujarat case, out of 92 witnesses, 22 material witnesses have been examined, 14 of them have been dropped and rest need to be examined.

Two Surat-based sisters had lodged separate complaints against Asaram and his son Narayan Sai, accusing them of rape and illegal confinement, among other charges.

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