Every three months since charges were framed against rape convict Gurmeet Ram Rahim in September 2008, he filed a review petition against the trial court orders in the Punjab and Haryana High Court. The High Court, in one of its orders on July 5, even took strong note of this and recorded that it was an attempt to “prolong the trial” and directed the Special CBI Judge to conclude the trial at the earliest.
The Dera head moved more than 30 applications under various provisions of criminal law, seeking direction or revision of the trial court orders before the high court after September 2008, when the CBI court took over the case. Most of them were, however, dismissed, with the last one being on August 3. They mostly pertained to the examination of the victim’s handwriting or the witnesses in the case. Six petitions were filed this year alone, till August, as the trial in the court reached the final stage.
“The apparent motive of the petitioner, as manifested, is to prolong the trial which is pending for the last nine years, and after conclusion of prosecution evidence in the year 2013, for defence evidence for the last four years,” said Justice Surinder Gupta in his judgment on a plea challenging a CBI court order on July 5. “The trial court is directed to conclude the trial which is at the final stage, at earliest. Copy of this order be conveyed to the trial court,” the judge added.
On Monday, the trail court will pronounce the quantum of sentence in the case and, according to the legal experts, the self-styled godman, who now stands convicted under Section 376 (rape) and Section 506 (criminal intimidation), is likely to face a punishment of at least seven years or even more depending on the circumstances of the crime.
Maximum punishment in the case can be life imprisonment. The only door for any relief to him is the same High Court — which set the law in motion in 2002 on the case on basis of an anonymous complaint, and where his conduct of prolonging the trial is a matter of record.