Rapist Baba Gurmeet Ram Rahim in Tears: Here's What Happened Inside Rohtak Courtroom
CBI had argued for maximum sentence for rape charges - life imprisonment. While the rape convict's lawyers banked on Singh's public image to request the court to give a lenient verdict in the case.
File photo of Gurmeet Ram Rahim/Network 18 Creatives
New Delhi: A makeshift CBI court sentenced Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh to 20 years in jail on Monday. Singh was reportedly in tears as the order was being pronounced by special CBI judge Jagdeep Singh and was pleading the judge with folded hands, for leniency. Hearing in the case had started at 2.30 pm and both sides were given 10 minutes to present their cases.
According to sources present in the court, the arguments of CBI seeking maximum punishment for the convict for breaching the trust of the followers he abused, weighed over the defence counsel's argument that Singh was a social worker and public figure.
CBI had argued for maximum sentence for rape charges - life imprisonment. While the rape convict's lawyers banked on Singh's public image to request the court to give a lenient verdict in the case, his lawyers argued that there were 45 other female followers of Gurmeet Ram Rahim, who hadn't come forward with their plights.
While arguments in the run-up to Singh's conviction were on, CBI had argued that the godman had raped his victims not once but several times, over three years and at different places.
The aggravating factor in the sentencing was the trust reposed in the godman by his victims, which the Dera chief violated several times.
CBI argued that the chief of Dera Sacha Sauda, had not only abused the authority he enjoyed as the sect-head, but also misused the faith the sadhvis had restored in him.
On the other hand, the defence pleaded for leniency on grounds of his social image.
The defence lawyers argued that Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh has a huge following that he's used to the betterment of society and welfare of people. It also recounted the philanthropic work he and his sect has done in the past and used it as a mitigating circumstance.
While Singh's defence cannot claim innocence, since he's already convicted of two rapes, according to sources, they pointed at the fact that he has not been convicted in any criminal case in the past.
It was finally up to the court to decide on the quantum of sentence it awarded to Singh in each case. He was convicted in two separate cases of rape.
Under Section 376, the minimum punishment for rape is seven years and the maximum is life imprisonment. So the option between before the court was a punishment ranging from seven to 14 years.
That the judge decided to award a 10-year jail sentence, shows that he had decided that Singh would serve his two sentences concurrently, not consecutively.
While it is not clear at the moment, his defence counsels may have also brought up illnesses that Singh may be suffering and couple it with his age (50) to claim that a prolonged jail sentence would be quite detrimental to his health. Earlier during the day, Singh had claimed that he was feeling 'uneasy'.
Sources also say that CBI is likely to have argued that since Singh is a public figure, who has tremendous social influence, there are all the more reasons to award him the strictest punishments to make an example out of his case; by doing which the court would set an example.
While information about the court proceedings is still coming in, it may be safe to say that the defence may have put forward in Singh's defence that he needs to take care not just of his four children, but of millions of other people in his sect, who are in his charge. His lawyers may have argued that a lot of people would suffer quite a lot if their spiritual father figure was packed and sent away.
Singh's lawyers are in case expected to appeal immediately against the CBI Court's verdict in the Punjab and Haryana High Court and seek bail for him.
Court had convicted Ram Rahim Singh on Friday. In the huge violence that spread over three states, 38 people lost their lives and hundreds of people were injured. Expecting violence on Monday, when his quantum of sentencing was announced, security forces clamped down on Haryana and shoot at sight orders were issued in Rohtak. Punjab chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh also held a security review meeting with the state's DGP, chief secretary and other senior officials.
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