A Jodhpur court is all set to pronounce the verdict in a high-profile rape case involving self-styled godman Asaram Bapu today. The verdict will be delivered inside the premises of Jodhpur Central Jail, where Asaram Bapu is lodged since 2013. According to reports, the court will meet at 10:30 am inside the jail and verdict could be delivered by 11:30 am. If the court convicts Asaram Bapu, who is accused of sexually assaulting a minor at his ashram in Mani village near here, he could be sentenced to jail for anywhere between 10 years to a life term.
To prevent Panchkula-like incidents, the district administration has made all arrangements by deploying adequate amount security forces in and around the city. The decision to pronounce the verdict in the jail premises was also taken keeping in view the clashes that had been reported since his arrest.
Asaram was arrested in 2013 on the complaint filed by a teenage girl from Uttar Pradesh’s Shahajahanpur. She had accused him of raping her at his Jodhpur ashram. The victim was a student at Asaram’s ashram here. He was later booked under stringent sections of the POCSO Act and SC/ST Act.
A timeline of events in the case:
August 15: The crime allegedly takes place at his ashram in Mani village near Jodhpur.
August 20: Parents of the victim file a zero FIR against the self-styled godman in Delhi. The case was later handed over to the Jodhpur Police.
August 23: Asaram Bapu’s followers attack Kamla Market police station in Delhi.
August 28: Victim’s father demands death penalty for Asaram Bapu. His son Narayan Sai describes the minor as ‘mentally unstable’.
August 29: Asaram Bapu alleges that he was being targeted by the then Congress-led UPA government.
August 31: Asaram Bapu was arrested by the Jodhpur Police from Indore. He is behind the bars since then.
September 1: Asaram Bapu taken to Jodhpur from his Indore ashram. A local court sends him to jail. Unhappy with the court’s order, his supporters create ruckus outside the court here.
September 3: Asaram Bapu clears potency test without any drugs.
September 17: Asaram’s lawyer Ram Jethmalani says the victim was afflicted with a chronic disease, which draws a woman to a man.
September 24: A local court in Jodhpur rejects Asaram’s plea seeking a direction restraining media from reporting on the issue.
October 1: Rajasthan High Court rejects bail plea of Asaram Bapu.
October 7: Locals ransack Asaram’s ashram in Kardhani area of Jhotwara in Jaipur.
October 8: Asaram Bapu asks the SC to restrain the media from carrying reports about him, his family and his ashrams.
October 11: A Jodhpur court allows Gujarat police custody of Asaram for interrogation in connection with a sexual assault case lodged by two Surat sisters.
October 16: Asaram undergoes a potency test in Ahmedabad.
October 19: Reports of the second potency test conducted on Asaram Bapu were positive. The test was conducted in Ahmedabad. The reports were similar to the one obtained from Jodhpur last month.
October 21: The Supreme Court refuses to entertain a plea of Asaram for restraining the media from covering the rape case.
November 1: Asaram tells the Supreme Court that he was being projected as a ‘Dracula’. He says this after the court declined to restrain media from covering the case.
November 6: Jodhpur police files chargesheet. The chargesheet names Asaram Bapu and four more. Police books Asaram under sections of POCSO Act and SC/ST Act. He is also charged under Sections 342 (for wrongful confinement), 354A (sexual harassment), 370(4) (trafficking), 376(2)f (rape on a woman when she is under twelve years of age), 506 (criminal intimidation), 509/34 and 120(B) (criminal conspiracy) of the IPC.
November 8: Rajasthan High Court orders the Jodhpur District and Sessions court to start daily proceedings.
November 19: Court rejects Asaram Bapu’s bail plea.
In the same month, the court took cognizance of the chargesheet filed against Asaram Bapu. After determining the charges, the court slated the next hearing in the case for December 4, when the trial will begin.
December 9: Asaram Bapu terms BJP’s win in the Rajasthan Assembly elections as the ‘victory of truth’.
January 3: Madhya Pradesh BJP MLA Usha Thakur performs aarti of Asaram Bapu’s photograph.
January 28: Jabalpur local authorities demolished Asaram’s ashram situated at Chowkitaal in Bhedhaghat area. Nearly 7,000 square feet construct was demilised. The construction was done illegally.
February 7: Charges framed against Asaram by a Jodhpur court.
March 6: The in-camera trial to begin at the District and Sessions Court on March 19, with the victim deposing on 25 March.
March 20: Asaram admitted to Ayurveda hospital in Jodhpur following complaints of insomnia and body ache.
March 22: Asaram Bapu’s ashram sealed by Jaipur Development Authority. The ashram was encroaching on the government land.
April 10: A Jodhpur court rejects the third bail application of Asaram Bapu. He had sought bail on health grounds.
April 29: The prosecution moves court seeking probe into the nexus between the jail and Ayurveda University hospital administration to help Asaram avoid court appearances. The prosecution also demands the continuation of trial in his absence. It claims that Asaram was not appearing in court on health grounds despite doctors declaring him fit.
May 8: A Jodhpur court rejects Asaram Bapu’s plea challenging the age of the minor girl. The court also slapped a fine of Rs 5,000 on him.
May 19: The Supreme Court delays hearing on Asaram’s bail plea till 3 July.
June 10: Asaram’s former aide and Ayurveda doctor Amrut Prajapati dies at his residence in Ahmedabad. He was attacked by two unidentified assailants in Rajkot on 23 May.
September 23: Supreme Court rejects bail plea of Asaram Bapu. The court said that the ground cited by him was not of such urgency to grant him bail.
October 15: Supreme Court directs AIIMS Director to set up a medical board to review medical reports. The medical board was also asked to clinically examine Asaram if required.
December 1: The SC said that it will hear his bail plea in January after winter vacation. The court also observed that there is no medical urgency to grant bail to Asaram and he cannot be given special treatment. The apex court asked him to undergo medical test at AIIMS. The also refused to pass any order on he should be brought from Jodhpur jail to the national capital. The court said that it is for the state government to decide on it.
December 31: Asaram Bapu leaves for Delhi by train for a medical test at AIIMS, as directed by the Supreme Court.
January 1, 2015: A medical board of AIIMS comprising seven members examines Asaram Bapu following a SC direction in connection with his bail application. He was examined between 2 pm and 6 pm.
January 5: A report submitted by a panel of AIIMS doctors to the Supreme Court said that Asaram does not need any surgery and his ailments can be managed through medicines.
January 11: Akhil Gupta, one of Asaram’s cook who had turned into a witness, shot dead outside his house in UP’s Muzaffarnagar.
January 13: Security provided to family of Akhil Gupta.
February 13: Another witness, Rahul K Sachan, stabbed outside the court in Jodhpur.
February 14: Family of slain witness Akhil Gupta says they are living under threat. They said this following an attack in Jodhpur on a witness.
May 12: Rajasthan High Court rejects two petitions filed by Asaram Bapu and upheld the trial court’s decision to allow the prosecution to present documents in the court to prove that the victim was minor when the crime had taken place.
May 14: Witness Mahendra Chawla, who had served as Asaram’s personal assistant between 2001 and 2005, shot dead at his house in Panipat.
June 16: BJP leader Subramanian Swamy fails to appear for the fourth consecutive time at a local court to argue for his bail.
June 20: Jodhpur court rejects Asaram Bapu’s bail plea. This was the sixth time his bail plea was rejected.
July 8: A witness, Sudha Pathank turned hostile. She told the court that she had no knowledge about Asaram Bapu’s activities.
July 10: Witness Kripal Singh shot dead by two motorcycle-borne gunmen in Shahjahanpur. Kripal was an LIC agent. He became the third witness in the cases to be shot.
July 24: Uttar Pradesh government recommends CBI probe into murder of prime witness Akhil Gupta.
July 2015: The Rajasthan HC rejects an interim bail plea of Asaram Bapu.
August 5: Asaram Bapu moves Rajasthan High Court challenging the decision of the trial court to hold the trial in the rape case.
October 24: The CBI begins probe into the murder of Akhil Gupta.
March 4: The Supreme Court declines to pass a direction for a CBI probe into the mysterious disappearance of Rahul Sachan.
March 16: A Shahjahanpur court issued non-bailable warrant against two associates of Asaram Bapu in connection with the murder of Kripal Singh.
March 20: Father of the girl claims he was threatened by an unidentified person to withdraw the case or face dire consequences.
April 20: Seers of Nirmohi Akhara purified Asaram’s ashram near Ujjain by sprinkling Gangajal. Sadhus claim that Asaram is not fit to call himself as a saint for his acts.
June 17: Asaram Bapu named as ‘wanted’ accused in the charge sheet filed by the police’s Special Operations Group (SOG) in the case of attack on a witness, who had deposed against him.
June 22: According to a report in The Indian Express, an Income Tax probe into the charitable trusts controlled by Asaram Bapu revealed undisclosed income of Rs 2,300 crore since 2008-09.
July 19: Asaram Bapu’s close aide Niraj Kumar, who was evading arrest in connection with the murder of Akhil Gupta, a prime witness in the case, arrested from Mirakpur village in UP’s Saharanpur.
August 4: Police move a plea in Rajasthan High Court for shifting the trial to jail premises in Jodhpur.
August 9: The Rajasthan High Court rejects his bail application. This was his ninth regular bail application to be rejected.
August 11: The Supreme Court denies interim bail to Asaram Bapu. The court directs AIIMS to set up a medical board to ascertain his health condition before taking up his regular bail plea.
August 29: The SC allows Asaram to be taken to AIIMS in Delhi from Jodhpur jail for medical examination. The court passed this order after a three-member panel of doctors from AIIMS informed the SC that equipment for evaluation of Asaram’s medical condition were not available in Jodhpur jail.
September 27: According to media reports, Asaram Bapu embarrasses a nurse by likening her with butter and her cheeks to juicy Kashmiri apples.
October 3: A medical board of the AIIMS tells Supreme Court that Asaram’s health was stable.
October 18: The Supreme Court asks the Rajasthan government to respond to the bail pleas of Asaram Bapu.
October 24: The Supreme Court rejects his interim bail plea on health grounds. The court asks him to undergo treatment in Rajasthan under judicial custody itself. Asaram had in his plea said that he wanted to undergo an ayurvedic treatment in Delhi. He had applied for one month’s interim bail.
October 27: Asaram Bapu moves Supreme Court seeking modification of its order directing him to undergo treatment at AIIMS in Jodhpur. Asaram through his counsel says that AIIMS, Jodhpur does not have in-patient facility and direction be issued to bring him to AIIMS, Delhi for further treatment.
January 30: The Supreme Court rejects Asaram Bapu’s bail plea. He had sought bail on medical grounds.
August 31: Shahjahanpur district administration tightens the security of the rape victim. Two more security personnel were deployed at her residence. The district administration says that half a dozen police personnel, including a lady constable, will remain on duty. The decision was taken close on the heels of Supreme Court questioning the tardy pace of trial.
September 12: Apex body of Hindu saints Akhil Bharatiya Akhara Parishad (ABAP) releases a list of 14 fake babas. It also named Asaram Bapu.
September 15: Responding to a question on the Akhil Bharatiya Akhara Parishad calling him a fake sadhu, Asaram said that he belonged to the category of ‘donkeys’.
April 7: Final argument in the case ends in the court of SC/ST Cases Special Judge Madhu Sudan Sharma. The court reserves verdict for April 25.
April 17: The Rajasthan High Court orders trial court to pronounce its judgment inside the Jodhpur Central Jail to prevent breach of law and order situation.
April 25: A local court in Jodhpur to pronounce the verdict.