THE PUNJAB and Haryana High Court Wednesday declined to suspend the sentence of murder-convict Rampal, a self-styled godman, in a case but sought a report from the police in another before considering his application for the interim relief. Rampal is seeking suspension of sentence for a week to attend the wedding of his grand-daughter.
The orders were passed by two different division benches on the same day. The applications seeking the interim bail were filed in two different cases in which he was sentenced to life imprisonment till natural death in October 2018. He is in custody in four cases. The trial of two other cases is pending. He was represented by Senior Advocate Vinod Ghai and advocates Arjun Sheoran and Kanika Ahuja in the cases.
A division bench of Justices SN Satyanarayana and Archana Puri in the case pertaining to FIR number 429 said that after perusal of the record, it was shocked to notice that on an earlier occasion when order of arrest was issued against Rampal, it was “dodged” in such a way that high court had to interfere twice to ensure his arrest.
“With such a background and also considering the custody certificate of the applicant-appellant, which reveals there are four more cases registered against him though in some of the cases he was acquitted, his antecedents would indicate that, it would not be in the interest of the state to show any concession until this matter is taken up and heard on merits,” the bench said in the order.
The division bench further noted the father of the bride has already been granted bail and in the order said, “with that being the case, it is seen there is some responsible elderly person in the family available for marriage to be conducted smoothly.”
However, a division bench of Justices S Muralidhar and Avneesh Jhingan, while hearing a similar application in the case pertaining to FIR number 430, directed the senior police officer — in charge of law and order of concerned district — to file a personal affidavit within two days. The case is now listed for hearing on July 6. The bench in the order said the police will assure the court in the affidavit that adequate security will be deployed to ensure that there is no large gathering of people either at the wedding venue or outside and that it is strictly in conformity with the orders regarding the maximum permissible attendance at weddings during the Covid-19 times. The police have also been asked to assure the court that Rampal will positively surrender peacefully at the end of the interim bail period.
Rampal and several of his associates were convicted in October 2018 in two separate cases of murder. In one case, five deaths had taken place during a two-week long standoff between his followers and police in 2014 when the latter had come to arrest him in a contempt case. The other case pertains to the death of a woman follower, who was also alleged to have been used as a human shield, at Satlok Ashram.
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