The prosecution claimed before a court in Gandhinagar on Tuesday that Asaram Bapu, convicted in a rape case filed by a former woman disciple in 2013, was a “habitual offender” and sought life imprisonment for the self-styled godman in the case along with a heavy fine.
Sessions court judge D K Soni concluded hearing the arguments on the quantum of sentence and reserved the final order for 3.30 pm, special public prosecutor RC Kodekar said.
The 81-year-old godman is currently lodged in a Jodhpur jail, where he is serving life sentence in another case of raping a minor girl at his ashram in Rajasthan in 2013.
The court at Gandhinagar in Gujarat on Monday convicted Asaram in a case registered in 2013 for raping a woman disciple, who hailed from Surat, on several occasions from 2001 to 2006 when she was living at his ashram at Motera near Ahmedabad.
“There is a provision of maximum life imprisonment or 10 years in jail for the offence for which Asaram has been convicted by the court. But, we have argued that he has already been convicted in another similar case in Jodhpur, and hence he is a habitual offender,” Kodekar told reporters outside the court after conclusion of the arguments.
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He demanded that Asaram be considered a habitual offender and given the strictest punishment.
“We have submitted before the court that Asaram should get the strictest punishment for the way he kept the victim captive, raped and sodomised her and forced her to remain confined in the ashram. We told the court that he should be given life imprisonment. The court should also impose a heavy fine on him, including compensation to the victim,” the prosecutor said.
The defence lawyer said it has no objection to 10 years’ imprisonment to the jailed godman, Kodekar added.
The court on Monday convicted Asaram under Indian Penal Code Sections 376 2 (C) (rape), 377 (unnatural offences), 342 (wrongful detention), 354 (assault or criminal force to woman with intent to outrage her modesty), 357 (assault) and 506 (criminal intimidation), in the case lodged by his former woman disciple in 2013.
The court had acquitted six other accused, including Asaram’s wife Laxmiben, their daughter, and four disciples who were accused of aiding and abetting the crime, for want of evidence, the prosecution said.