Jodhpur, April 25 (IANS) A Special Court in Jodhpur on Wednesday convicted self-styled godman Asaram for raping a minor girl at his ashram in Rajasthan in 2013 and sentenced him to a prison term for life till his natural death.
The judgment was pronounced by Special Judge for Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe cases, Madhu Sudan Sharma, inside the Jodhpur Central Jail, where Asaram is lodged.
The court also awarded 20 years in jail each to Asaram’s warden Shilpi and associate Sharad.
The court, however, acquitted Asaram’s ‘sevadar’ Shiva and cook Prakash.
“Asaram has been sentenced to life imprisonment till natural death… Shilpi and Sharad have also been directed to pay Rs one lakh fine each,” defence lawyer Sushma Dhara said.
The 77-year-old godman and two others were convicted under Section 376D of the Indian Penal Code, the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (Pocso) Act and the Juvenile Justice (JJ) Act, the 474-page judgment said.
Dhara said an appeal would be filed in the Rajasthan High Court against the judgment and for Asaram’s bail.
The defence lawyer said that Asaram appeared normal in the court but became sad and worried when the court convicted him.
The police chargesheet against Asaram and four co-accused was filed on November 6, 2013, under the Pocso Act, the Juvenile Justice Act and the IPC.
Asaram is facing trial in another sexual assault case in Gujarat.
The final arguments in the case were completed in the Jodhpur court on April 7, which reserved the order for Wednesday.
Asaram was arrested in 2013 after the teenage girl from Uttar Pradesh’s Shahjahanpur, a Class 12 student at his Chhindwara Ashram in Madhya Pradesh, filed a complaint and accused him of rape at his ashram in Manai village on the Jodhpur outskirts on August 15, 2013.
Asaram was arrested from Indore and brought to Jodhpur on September 1, 2013. He is under judicial custody since September 2, 2013. He was earlier denied bail by the Supreme Court.
Apprehending threat to law and order from the followers of Asaram, high security was in place in Jodhpur, with prohibitory orders enforced in the city.
The Home Ministry on Tuesday also issued an advisory to Rajasthan, Gujarat and Haryana to step up security/ vigilance to prevent any untoward incident in the wake of court verdict.