SC raises questions over tardy pace in rape case against Asaram Bapu

NEW DELHI
28 Aug 2017

The Supreme Court today expressed anguish over the tardy pace of progress in a rape case involving self-styled religious figure Asaram Bapu and asked the Gujarat government to file a progress report on it.

The apex court, which has earlier rejected several bail pleas by Asaram (rpt Asaram) and was hearing one more moved by him, also questioned the state government on why the victim in the case has not yet been examined. "Why is there a delay despite the earlier direction for expeditious trial? Why has the victim not been examined so far," a bench of Justices N V Ramana and Amitava Roy said. It told the Additional Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for Gujarat government, that directions for expediting recording of evidence were given in April.

"Why has the victim's statement not been recorded in the case so far? She is the most crucial witness in the case", the bench observed. Mehta told the bench that two crucial witnesses have been killed, one is missing and 17 others injured in alleged attacks. The woman will be examined by the court after ensuring her safety, he said, adding that out of 92 material witnesses, over 45 of them have been examined so far. Senior advocate Sanjay Hegde and Advocate Saurabh Ajay Gupta, appearing for Asaram, said they have to prove the defence of their client and it is only after the victim is examined, he can press for bail.

reacting to the development, Gujarat chief minister Vijay Rupani today said it is up to the court to take a decision on fast-tracking the rape case against Asaram, and the Gujarat government has no role in it. "Trial is going on in the court, which is independent. It is for the court to take a decision (on expediting the trial). The government has no role in the matter," Rupani told newspersons while replying to queries on the sidelines of a function in Rajkot.

The chief minister rejected the Congress' allegations that the ruling party was trying "shield the accused". "The Congress is only seeking to take mileage by making false political allegations against the government. People will teach it a lesson in the upcoming assembly elections," the chief minister said.