Trial in one of the rape cases against self-styled “godman” Asaram began in Gandhinagar through video conference at the collector’s office on Wednesday.
Asaram, who is currently lodged in another rape case at Jodhpur jail, had requested the court to exempt him from appearance on health ground and said the trial could proceed in his absence. The current case pertains to a complaint lodged by a Surat-based girl, who was allegedly sexually exploited by Asaram during her stay at his ashram in Motera under Chandkheda police station area.
Her sister has accused Asaram’s son Narayan Sai of similar charges.
In January 2014, police had chargesheeted Asaram, his wife Lakshmi, daughter Bharti, four women followers — Dhruvben, Nirmala, Jassi and Meera — under various sections of the IPC, including 376 (2) (C), 377, 357 and 504. Earlier, the Gujarat High Court had allowed the Gandhinagar sessions court to conduct the trial of Asaram through video conferencing after attempts to bring Asaram to Gujarat failed.
In August 2013, he was arrested by the Rajasthan police for allegedly sexually assaulting a minor girl at his Jodhpur ashram.
Special public prosecutor R C Kodekar said that the trial started on Wednesday and ‘panch’ witnesses were examined. He said that during the proceeding Asaram made a statement for exemption from appearance due to his health.
Kodekar said that to conduct the trial, daily presence of the accused was not required.