The Supreme Court on Monday raised questions about the delay in the trial of self-styled godman Asaram Bapu, who is accused of rape, and asked the Gujarat government to apprise it of the status of the case. The court was hearing a bail application filed by Asaram, who faces cases in Rajasthan and Gujarat.
A bench of Justices N V Ramana and Amitava Roy asked Additional Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, who appeared for the Gujarat government, why the victim had not been examined so far. Mehta replied that the state had to ensure the girl’s safety in view of what had happened to other witnesses in the past. Some witnesses had been killed, he pointed out. The bench then asked the ASG to file an affidavit in this regard. The case will be taken up for hearing in November.
Asaram’s bail application challenged an earlier order of the Gujarat High Court denying him bail in a case related to complaints by a Surat-based woman, accusing the preacher of raping her when she was living in his ashram between 1997 and 2006. In his bail plea, filed through counsel Saurabh Ajay Gupta, Asaram requested the court to ensure that the prosecutrix was examined at the earliest. The case in Rajasthan involves a teenage girl who accused Asaram of sexual assault at his ashram in Manai village near Jodhpur. The girl, from Shahjahanpur in UP, was a student living in the ashram.