Chandigarh: Jailed Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh on Monday moved the Punjab and Haryana High Court, challenging a special CBI court's verdict sentencing him to 20 years in prison for raping two disciples.
"We have filed an appeal today in the Punjab and Haryana High Court. Through this, we have challenged the order of the CBI court," defence counsel Vishal Garg Narwana said.
He said the CBI verdict has been challenged on several grounds.
"One of the grounds was that there was a delay of more than six years in recording the statements of the women (victims) by the CBI after the incident," Narwana said.
He was convicted on August 25 and had been sentenced on August 28. The Dera chief is currently lodged in the Sunaria jail in Rohtak.
The court had also imposed a fine of Rs 30 lakh on the Dera chief. The rape victims will get Rs 14 lakh each as compensation from this amount.
In April 2002, an anonymous letter was written to the then chief justice of the Punjab and Haryana HC, complaining about the alleged sexual exploitation of woman followers at the Dera headquarters in Sirsa.
The CBI had filed the chargesheet against Ram Rahim in Ambala court in July 2007. The chargesheet mentions sexual exploitation of two 'sadhvis' (women followers) between 1999 and 2001.
The court had framed charges against him under sections 376 (rape) and 506 (criminal intimidation) of the IPC in September 2008. Between 2009 and 2010, the two complainants recorded their statements before the court.
The special CBI court had shifted from Ambala to Panchkula and the case against Dera chief was also transferred to Panchkula CBI court.
In July 2017, the court had ordered daily hearing and arguments of prosecution and defence were concluded on August 17, 2017.
(With Agency inputs)