Jodhpur: Self-styled godman Asaram Bapu was Wednesday sentenced to life-long jail term by a special SC/ST court here for raping a minor nearly five years ago.
The godman’s two other accomplices, Sharad and Shilpi, were sentenced to 20 years each in jail in the case while remaining two co-accused Shiva and Prakash were acquitted.
Additional Sessions Judge Madhusudan Sharma, heading the special SC/ST court sentenced the trio after convicting them of various offences under the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and the Protection of Children from Sexual Offenses Act (POCSO), in a proceeding held in a specially-convened court inside Jodhpur Central Jail premises.
“Asaram was given life-long jail term, while his accomplices Sharad and Shilpi were sentenced to 20 years in jail by the court,” Public Prosecutor Pokar Ram Bishnoi told reporters here, soon after the court pronounced its judgement on quantum of sentences to the three convicts.
Asaram would be in prison till his natural death, said Bishnoi, adding the court also imposed a fine of Rs 1 lakh on him.
“We argued that Asaram is not a saint, but a sinner. He called the victim from the hostel under a conspiracy and raped her. Accordingly, we demanded maximum punishment for him. Sharad and Shilpi too were part of the conspiracy,” he said.
The verdict was delivered by Special Judge Sharma in a especially-convened courtroom inside the Jodhpur Central Jail premises as per the directions of the Rajasthan High Court in view of the possible threat to law and order by Asaram’s supporters following his conviction and sentencing.
The court pronounced its verdict amid tight security arrangements outside the Jodhpur Central Jail as well as the city to maintain law and order, which has remained undisturbed with no untoward incident taking place so far.
Besides making elaborate security arrangements, prohibitory orders under section 144 of the CrPC too were clamped in the city to thwart any possible ganging up and gathering of Asaram’s supporters to vitiate the peace in the city.
Apprehending trouble by his supporters, the police had deployed additional forces including its riot control units, special task force, mounted policemen and kept a tight vigil on various hotels and inns of the city.
The police had also made elaborate arrangements to check influx of Asaram’s supporters to the city through trains or by road.
The special court had finished hearing the final arguments in the case April 7 itself and had slated April 25 to pronounce its order on the quantum of sentences to the convicts.