August 21, 1997
MADURAI, AUG 20: Controversial Swami Premananda of Premananda Ashram in Viralimalai near Pudukottai was today convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment and a fine of Rs 67.30 lakh imposed for various criminal offences including rape and murder.
The much awaited judgement was delivered by Pudukottai District and Sessions Judge Banumathi in a packed courtroom.
Premananda alias Premkumar alias Ravi was charged of raping 13 inmates, molesting two and murdering Ravi, an engineer, in the ashram. The judge also found six others guilty of the conspiracy to commit the rapes and destroy evidences and awarded life imprisonment to five of them. Premananda appeared unfazed when the judge delivered the verdict and even smiled. He posed for photographs and greeted cameramen while proceeding to the van. “Truth will ultimately triumph,” he told mediapersons.
The judge who had conducted 50 hearings said that if Premananda defaulted in paying the fine, he would have to undergo an additional imprisonment for 32 years and nine months. She also sentenced him to one year rigorous imprisonment for cheating innocent inmates of the ashram.
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The judge observed that any remission of sentence or amnesty by the Central or state governments would not bind against Premananda and six others as they were convicted for grave offences against women.
Eminent lawyer Ram Jethmalani represented Premananda among the battery of advocates.
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