The Gujarat government will move the high court to challenge the acquittal of self-styled godman Asaram’s wife, their daughter and his four disciples in a 2013 rape case in which he was sentenced to life imprisonment, an official said on Thursday.
A court in Gandhinagar on January 31 sentenced Asaram to life imprisonment in the rape case filed by his former woman disciple in 2013. Asaram’s wife Laxmiben, their daughter Bharati, and his four disciples, who were accused by the prosecution of aiding and abetting the crime, were acquitted by the court for want of evidence.
“The state’s legal department passed a resolution on May 6 and directed the prosecution to file an appeal against the acquittal of six accused by a Gandhingar court in the 2013 rape case against self-styled godman Asaram,” special public prosecutor in the case, R C Kodekar, told PTI.
The prosecution has also sought the government’s consent to challenge the Gandhinagar court’s January 31 order, in which it suggested that life sentences for Asaram in Jodhpur and Ahmedabad cases should run concurrently. The government’s consent for the same is awaited, Kodekar said.
The octogenarian godman is currently serving a life term in a Jodhpur jail in another case of raping a minor girl at his ashram in Rajasthan in 2013.
The Gandhinagar court sentenced Asaram in the case for raping a woman disciple, who hailed from Surat, on several occasions from 2001 to 2007 at his ashram at Motera near Ahmedabad before her escape.
In its order, the court said that Asaram sexually abused a victim of a younger age than his daughter and committed a crime that cannot be taken lightly.
It said the accused committed “a very serious crime against the society and such a heinous crime cannot have any place of sympathy and should be punished to the fullest extent prescribed by law.”
It becomes the moral responsibility not only of the society but also of the court to set an example and prevent such a behaviour, the court said, adding that everyone had a “shared responsibility to ensure women’s safety”.
The court also observed that in our society, a religious leader is considered a man who instils love for the divine, leads us through devotion, religion and knowledge via ‘satsang’ to God. It also said that Asaram doesn’t deserve sympathy given the nature of the crime and that the defence on the ground of his old age and bad health cannot be considered valid.