December 21, 2021 6:25:37 am
Dera Sacha Sauda head, Gurmeet Ram Rahim, on Monday appealed his conviction in a murder case before the Punjab and Haryana High Court. Ram Rahim had been convicted for the 2002 murder of former Dera manager, Ranjit Singh, by a special CBI court in October this year and sentenced to life in prison.
As per CBI court’s order, Ram Rahim was also to be fined Rs 31 lakh, half of which will go to Ranjit Singh’s son.
Ranjit Singh, a staunch follower of Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh and one of the managers at the dera in Sirsa, Haryana, was shot dead on July 10, 2002. An FIR was filed on charges of murder and criminal conspiracy at Thanesar police station. On November 10, 2003, the Punjab and Haryana High Court had ordered a CBI investigation in the case.
The division bench of Justice Augustine George Masih and Justice Sandeep Moudgil, while admitting the appeal on Monday, held, “Recovery of 50 per cent fine shall remain suspended during the pendency of appeal as the remaining 50 per cent is to be paid as compensation to the legal representatives/dependants of victim/deceased, Ranjit Singh.” Ram Rahim, through his counsels senior advocate Vinod Ghai, advocate Kanika Ahuja, and Jitender Khurana, has sought to set aside the judgment of conviction passed by the CBI trial court on October 8 and the order of quantum of sentence passed on October 18 this year.
According to the CBI chargesheet, the Dera chief believed that Ranjit Singh was behind the circulation of an anonymous letter that alleged sexual exploitation of women inside the Dera headquarters. He, therefore, hatched a conspiracy to kill him.
Ram Rahim’s counsel submitted before the High Court that the CBI court committed grave error and illegality in presuming conspiracy despite absence of any material on record. The most essential ingredient of criminal conspiracy is meeting of mind to do an illegal act, Ram Rahim’s lawyers contended. Mere suspicion, however grave, cannot form basis of conviction, they added.
They also argued that the prosecution has failed to prove conspiracy of which Ram Rahim was one of the conspirators. Therefore, the said facts regarding disclosure by deceased to few witnesses are inadmissible in evidence and hence, cannot be used against the appellant.
Further, the Dera chief’s lawyers argued that impugned judgment is contrary to law and is liable to be set aside as the trial court has failed to appreciate that the law mandates recording of statements of relevant witnesses at the earliest so as to prevent any concoction or fabrication or afterthought.
HC notice to Centre, Punjab
The HC has issued notice to the Centre and Punjab over a petition seeking directions to strike down the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Dog Breeding and Marketing) Rules, 2017.
The petitioner Breeders Welfare Association through counsel Vikas Chatrath have submitted that the rules were ultra vires to the Constitution of India, being violative of Articles 14 and 19.
📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines
- The Indian Express website has been rated GREEN for its credibility and trustworthiness by Newsguard, a global service that rates news sources for their journalistic standards.