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Asaram rape case trial to take place on jail premises

Jaipur, Aug 04, 2015, DHNS:
Godman Asaram Bapu. PTI file photo
A District and Sessions Court, on the directions of the Rajasthan High Court, ordered on Monday that the trial of the rape case against self-styled godman Asaram would now take place on the Jodhpur Central Jail premises.

Asaram has been in Jodhpur jail since August 2013 on charges of sexually assaulting a 16-year-old girl.

“Justice Manoj Kumar Vyas said it would be appropriate to conduct the trial in jail from August 5, considering the law and order situation and the court staff’s, counsels’ and Asaram’s security,” said victim’s counsel P C Solanki.

The prison administration had filed an application with the Rajasthan HC requesting that the hearing be conducted on the jail premises, expressing concern over the security of Asaram and others associated with the case.

The Rajasthan HC Registrar General (Administration) later wrote to the lower court to conduct the trial in jail.

Security concerns

Following the order, the entire court, including the judge, the stenographer, counsels of both sides and the witnesses will have to be in jail for every hearing at a scheduled time.
Earlier, a large number of Asaram’s supporters used to reach court for every hearing. There were several incidents of attacks or threat calls to police officials investigating the case and witnesses.

A key witness in the case was recently shot dead in the Shahjahanpur district of Uttar Pradesh. The Rajasthan Police had booked a few of Asaram’s supporters from the Jodhpur district in this connection.

After their interrogation, the police expressed concern for the security of Asaram and others associated with the case.

Last month, the local police had increased Asaram’s security during his transit between jail and court. Witnesses’ security was also increased.

Earlier, the prosecution had requested the court to hear the case through video-conferencing from jail, but the court had rejected the plea following strong protest by defence counsel.

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