Self-styled preacher Asaram, facing prosecution in a rape case in Gujarat, today moved the Supreme Court seeking early hearing on his pending bail plea, saying the ongoing trial in the matter was getting delayed. Asaram’s advocate mentioned the matter before a bench of Justices N V Ramana and Amitava Roy and contended that the top court had earlier fixed the matter for hearing after the Diwali vacation but it was shown to be listed on January 4 next year. The bench told advocate Saurabh Ajay Gupta, representing Asaram, to mention the matter before Chief Justice Dipak Misra for early listing of the plea.
The counsel told the bench that trial proceedings before the lower court in Gujarat was getting delayed and recording of evidence of prosecution witnesses was not yet complete. The court had in August expressed anguish over the tardy pace of progress in the case involving Asaram and had asked the Gujarat government to file a progress report on it and asking it why the alleged victim had not been examined. The top court had earlier rejected several bail pleas filed by Asaram. The Gujarat government had told the court that two crucial witnesses were killed while one was missing and 17 others were injured in alleged attacks. It had said that there were 92 material witnesses in the case.
On April 12, the apex court had asked the Gujarat trial court to expedite the recording of evidence of prosecution witnesses in the case lodged by two Surat-based sisters. The two sisters had lodged separate complaints against Asaram and his son Narayan Sai, accusing them of rape and illegal confinement among other charges. The elder sister, in her complaint against Asaram, had accused him of repeated sexual assaults between 2001 and 2006 when she was staying at his ashram near Ahmedabad. Asaram and his son have denied all the allegations against them. Asaram, who is also facing a separate case in Rajasthan, was arrested by the Jodhpur Police on August 31, 2013 and has been in jail since then.