New Delhi: On a day when Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh waits for pronouncement of jail term against him in a rape case, the Supreme Court on Monday questioned the delay in conducting trial in a rape case against another preacher and self-styled godman, Asaram Bapu.
A bench led by Justice N V Ramana asked the Gujarat government to file a status report in the matter, explaining the progress made so far.
"Why is there a delay in conducting the trial?" the bench asked Additional Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, who appeared for the state government.
The Court sought to know why the rape victim has not been examined so far, despite being the most crucial witness in the case.
Mehta, on his part, pointed out that they had to ensure her safety in the wake of past incidents. "Two prime witnesses have been killed and 17 others were injured," he told the bench, adding let them decide an appropriate time to examine her.
At this, the bench said the state government should file an affidavit keeping in view the fact that trial in such cases had to happen in fast-track mode.
Senior advocate Sanjay Hegde, representing the victims and some witnesses, pressed for a speedy trial and said that the Court should issue a direction to examine the victim before September 23, which is the next date of hearing before trial court. The bench has now posted the matter in November.
The case before the Gandhinagar court relates to a complaint filed by a Surat-based woman, who accused Asaram Bapu of raping her many times when she was living at his ashram on the outskirts of Ahmedabad city between 1997 and 2006.
The chargesheet also names his wife Lakshmiben, daughter Bharti and four women followers Dhruvben, Nirmala, Jassi and Meera for abetment of rape. The charges against Asaram Bapu were framed in March last year.
He is also facing another rape case in Jodhpur in Rajasthan, and is currently lodged in a prison there.