The Gujarat High Court on Monday rejected the bail application moved by the self-styled godman, Asaram, apprehending easy susceptibility of the deadly Corona virus due to his old age.
Asaram, presently 84, is lodged in Jodhpur's Central Jail, serving life term as imposed by a Jodhpur court in connection to a rape case. He is also facing trial for another sexual assualt case before a court in Gandhinagar.
He had moved the Gujarat 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.
The state counsel opposed the bail plea, citing seriousness of the alleged offences and rejection of earlier regular bail applications moved by him before the Supreme Court.
"Considering the seriousness of the alleged offences, the earlier applications for regular bail of the applicant have not been granted by this Court and by the Apex Court, and therefore, the present application for temporary bail should not be entertained," the state argued.
Taking note of the same, the High Court denied bail. The single-Judge bench of Justice Bela M. Trivedi also highlighted that Asaram did not qualify for the category of undertrial prisoners, who are proposed to be released on interim bail by the High Powered Committee of the state, in compliance with the above mentioned direction of the Supreme Court.
In the said case, the top court has recommended that those undertrial/ remanded prisoners be released on interim bail who are facing charges that stipulate a jail term of up to 7 years only. Asaram on the other hand has been booked for committing rape while holding a position of authority, under Section 376(2)(c) of IPC, which prescribes imprisonment of not less than 10 years.
"The case of the applicant also does not fall under any of the categories mentioned in the guidelines issued by the High Power Committee constituted pursuant to the order passed by the Supreme Court… It also appears that his regular bail applications were not granted by this Court as well as by the Supreme Court," the High Court said.
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.
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