The Gujarat High Court on Wednesday rejected the interim bail application moved the self-styled godman, Asaram, stating that it would not be feasible to release him on bail, since the same may lead to congregation of his followers and further aggravate the threat of spreading the Corona virus.
The order passed by Justice AS Supehia states,
"The applicant in the present application has made a specific averment that he has number of followers all over the world and in India. Considering the said averment, it would not be apposite to release the applicant on bail in light of the prevailing situation of Covid 2019, since there is a strong possibility that on release of the applicant, his thousands of followers will congregate to meet him, which will aggravate the distressing situation."
Asaram, presently 84, is lodged in Jodhpur's Central Jail in connection to a sexual assault case. He is presently being tried by a court in Gandhinagar, and has already been sentenced to life imprisonment by a Jodhpur court earlier, in connection to another rape case.
He had moved the High Court stating that given his age and various other ailments, he would be more vulnerable to the COVID-19 pendamic prevailing in the State. His counsel also relied on the Supreme Court's ruling in Re: Contagion of COVID-19 Virus in Prisons to state that his would be a fit case for grant of temporary bail, for de-congestion of prisons.
Pertinently, he had moved the High Court on the same grounds in March this year. However the Court had refused to grant him relief, considering the seriousness of offences alleged against him.
Highlighting the same, APP Shruti Pathak for the State, submitted that no new ground had been averred in the instant application for temporary bail. She further submitted that the jail authorities in Rajasthan were taking ample precautions so that there is no spread of Covid 2019 amongst the inmates.
"No new ground has been raised by the applicant seeking indulgence of this Court in releasing him on temporary bail," the Court observed and rejected the application.
On an earlier occasion, the Supreme Court had rejected his regular bail application on medical grounds, noting that the matter wasn't as serious, requiring special medical procedures.
Case Title: Ashumal @ Asharam v. State Of Gujarat
Case No.: R/Crl. Misc. Application No. 7349/2020
Quorum: Justice AS Supehia
Appearance: Advocates Manoj S Joshi and Mita S Panchal (for Applicant); APP Shruti Pathak (for State)
Click Here To Download Order