The Rajasthan High Court at Jodhpur, today, on 11 September 2015, stayed its own notification issued in regard to the hearing of rape case against spiritual guru Asaram Bapu in Jodhpur jail only. This notification had been issued by the high court’s registrar general while exercising administrative powers.
“A division bench of Justice Govind Mathur and Justice Jaishree Thakur after hearing the arguments of the lawyers of Asaram’s follower Sanchita alias Shilpi passed this interim order,” said Additional Advocate General Rajesh Panwar. Advocate Mahesh Bora, appearing for Shilpi, challenged the high court notification, terming it illegal and bad.
After hearing the arguments, the court stayed the notification till September 14 and fixed the next hearing on the same date.
Shilpi had filed a petition before a single-judge bench challenging the decision of the session court to hold the trial of a case in Jodhpur Central Jail from the first week of August, but it refused to hear the petition as the notification could only be challenged before the division bench. Thereafter, she moved the division bench.
Asaram Bapu was arrested from his ashram at Indore and brought to Jodhpur on September 1, 2013 on a complaint by a 16-year-old girl, accusing him of sexually assaulting her at his ashram near Jodhpur. In her complaint, she had alleged that Asaram’s aides sent her to his Jodhpur ashram on the pretext that she was under the influence of an “evil spirit” and he could perform an exorcism.
Asaram has been in jail since then, i.e., for more than 2 years now, and hearing of rape case is going on a day to day basis. The district sessions court in pursuance of HC notification had ordered to continue the trial of the case in jail from first week of August only after considering the huge crowds during Asaram’s court appearances.