A sessions court in Surat on Tuesday sentenced Narayan Sai, son of jailed self-styled spiritual guru Asaram, to life imprisonment in a rape case filed against him in 2013 by a former woman devotee.
Additional Sessions Judge (ASJ) P S Gadhvi also ordered Narayan to pay Rs 5 lakh compensation to the victim.
The court sentenced his three associates — known as Ganga, Jamna and Hanuman — to 10-year imprisonment, and sent another aide, Ramesh Malhotra, to six months in jail.
On Friday, ASJ Gadhvi had convicted Narayan and his aides Dharmishta Mishra, alias Ganga; Bhavna Patel, alias Jamna; Kaushal Thakur, alias Hanuman; and Ramesh Malhotra.
Narayan was convicted under IPC Section 376(2)c for life imprisonment along with Rs 1 lakh penalty, Section 377 for life imprisonment and Rs 1 lakh penalty, Section 354 for six months and Rs 25,000 penalty, Section 504 for 1 year and Rs 5,000 penalty, section 506(2) for three years and Rs 5,000 penalty, Section 508 for 1 year and Rs. 5000 penalty, and under IPC Section 323 for six months and Rs 500 penalty.
After the judge pronounced the quantum of sentence, Narayan and the others appeared stoic, while Thakur (alias Hanuman) wept loudly. He was soon led away from the court by the police personnel.
Defence lawyer Kalpesh Desai, said, “We will get a copy of the court’s order in a day or two, and will go for appeal in High Court after studying it.”
Retired assistant commissioner of police Riyaz Munshi, who was the investigating officer in the case, said, “During the hearing, a question was raised on the delay in registering the FIR. The government prosecutor contended that a crime never dies, but there was a delay. During the investigation, there were incidents of attacks on witnesses, which also helped us in proving Narayan Sai and others guilty.”
Narayan, who did not sit down during the more than four hours that the court was in session on Tuesday before ASJ Gadhvi pronounced the judgment, was seen staring at the judge. Thakur, sitting next to Narayan, was seen murmuring some mantras, while Dharmistha, Bhavna and Ramesh sat on the bench next to him.
As the judge wrote the order, Narayan made some indications with an apparent intention to say something, but did not dare. Later, ASJ Gadhvi asked the defence lawyer what was wrong and asked the counsel to check with him. But since the issue was not serious, he did not pay attention.
Defence lawyer B M Gupta said, “When I met Narayan Sai at the judge’s instructions, he told me that he wanted permission to say something. I requested him to remain silent in the courtroom. During our conversation, he wanted to say that he behaved properly in jail… and that his behaviour with jail officials was good.”KAMAAL SAIYED