New Delhi: Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh got away with 10 years in jail after being convicted of raping two of his followers only because the new stringent law on minor’s rape did not apply to him.
Singh was charged under the Indian Penal Code since the offence was committed before the harsher Prevention of Children From Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act came into effect in February 2013. He was not tried under the new law, where the maximum sentence is life term, as it cannot be applied retrospectively.
The case against the Dera chief was filed in 2002 and he was booked under sections 375 and 376 of the IPC. The minimum punishment that could be awarded to Singh under these two sections was seven years and he got 10 in jail.
The CBI judge exercised his discretion to raise Singh's jail term to 10 years from an otherwise minimum of seven years.
Other factors, such as the fact that Singh was a first-time convict and not a repeat offender, would have also helped his lawyers convince the judge that the spiritual preacher should not be handed a more strict punishment.
Had he been charged under the POCSO, the minimum punishment for him would have been 10 years in jail, extendable up to life term.
However, with this conviction, the road ahead becomes tougher for Singh since he has other pending cases as well, including a murder case.
Now a convict, Singh is not going to get any leniency from the judges if there are any more convictions in the future.