The Supreme Court on Monday pulled up Rajasthan government for failing to take any action on the threats being given to witnesses by aides of self-styled religious figure Asaram Bapu, facing trial for allegedly sexually assaulting a 16-year-old girl at his Jodhpur ashram.
The apex court asked the state government to approach the High Court, seeking cancellation of bail granted to four of his aides – Shiva, Shilpi, Sharad and Prakash, if any fresh attempt of intimidation of witnesses is made by Asaram or on his behalf, along with evidence.
A vacation bench of Justices P C Ghose and Amitava Roy took strong exception to the statement of Rajasthan government counsel that there were intelligence reports that witnesses and a police officials were threatened and in this regard a FIR has been registered.
- Why draft witness protection scheme can’t be formulated: SC
- Why draft witness protection scheme can't be made: SC asks govt
- Apex body of sadhus releases list of 'fake babas', demands action
- Supreme Court questions delay in Asaram rape case
- After SC's query, Gujarat CM Vijay Rupani says up to court to expedite Asaram's case
- Asaram Bapu case: Supreme Court questions Gujarat govt over slow pace of trial
“Tell us what action has been taken. Do you (Rajasthan government) think every thing is correct? SHO is being threatened in court. You can’t take the court for a ride. You have to take a stand. Why have you not moved the High Court seeking cancellation of bails, if you had proper proof of intimidation. People are suffering due to you,” it said.
The bench said “law and order is the responsiblity of state. You (state government) can’t just say that a FIR has been registered and investigation is being done. If you are toothless, helpless, clueless or powerless, then tell us and we will give the probe to some other agency.”
The bench’s observation came when advocate Kamini Jaiswal appearing for Karamvir Singh, father of the 16-year-old girl, said the aides of Asaram were threatening witnesses, including a police officer associated with the case.
The apex court asked the counsel whether any witness had complained of any threat extended to them or was there any evidence to corroborate the allegations. Jaiswal said the girl’s father has said before the court that he is being threatened and several of the witnesses who had received threats have either been killed or are missing.
“Statements of the father can be taken with a pinch of salt. He can be an interested witnesses. Are there any witnesses to corroborate the allegations,” the bench asked, adding that it cannot act on sentiments and emotions.
Jaiswal said the father of the victim was threatened in the presence of police officials and not in privacy but nothing was done. Asaram, who is currently lodged in Jodhpur jail was arrested after a 16-year-old girl lodged a police complaint Aug 20, 2013, accusing him of sexually assaulting her at his ashram in Jodhpur.
He is being tried under the provision of Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act (POCSO).