JODHPUR: Four and a half years since self-styled godman Asaram Bapu was sent to Jodhpur Central Jail for allegedly raping a teenage girl, the Jodhpur Schedule Caste and Schedule Tribe Court is set to pronounce its verdict on Wednesday. Follow live updates of the verdict on ZeeNews.com. Click Here.
The chargesheet against Asaram and four other co-accused Shiva, Shilpi, Sharad and Prakash was filed by the police on November 6, 2013 under various sections of the POSCO Act, Juvenile Justice Act and IPC. If convicted, Asaram could be jailed for a minimum of 10 years or awarded a maximum life term, according to prosecution lawyers.
Apprehending a threat to law and order, the Centre has asked Rajasthan, Gujarat and Haryana governments to tighten security and deploy additional forces as the three states have a large number of followers of the 77-year-old Asaram who faces a minimum term of 10 years if convicted.
As per the directions of the Rajasthan High Court, the trial court will deliver its verdict in the Jodhpur Central Jail premises where Asaram has been lodged for the past over four years.
Asaram is accused of raping a teenage girl from Shahajahanpur in Uttar Pradesh, who was studying at the godman's ashram at Chhindwara in Madhya Pradesh. Asaram has denied the rape charges. The victim had alleged that Asaram called her to his ashram in Manai area near Jodhpur and raped her on the night of August 15, 2013.
Security has also been stepped up around the victim's house in Shahajahanpur. The Union Home Ministry's advisory was sent in view of the fact that large-scale violence was witnessed in Haryana, Punjab and Chandigarh after a special court in Mohali.
Final arguments in the Asaram case had been completed by the special court for SC/ST cases on April 7 and the court had kept the order reserved. Asaram was arrested in Indore and brought to Jodhpur on September 1, 2013. He is under judicial custody since September 2, 2013.