Supreme Court rejects Asaram’s plea for suspension of sentence

Asaram is serving a life term at Jodhpur Central Jail in connection with the rape of a minor girl

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Tuesday declined to entertain a plea by self-styled godman Asaram Bapu, who sought suspension of his sentence, in the rape case of a minor girl, to avail ayurvedic treatment.

A bench of Justices Indira Banerjee, V. Ramasubramanian, and Bela M. Trivedi observed that Asaram was convicted in a crime, which is “no ordinary crime at all”.

Earlier, the Rajasthan High Court had denied relief to him in the matter and Asaram had moved the top court.

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The bench told Asaram’s counsel that his client will get ayurvedic treatment in jail. “Continuing ayurvedic treatment is not a problem. We’ll direct the jail authorities to take care that ayurvedic treatment is granted,” it said.

Senior advocate R. Basant, representing Asaram, contended that only six weeks suspension was being sought owing to his failing health. He requested the court to show some mercy in the matter. However, the bench was unmoved by this argument.

Basant submitted that there was no treatment in jail. Opposing this argument, senior advocate Manish Singhvi, appearing for Rajasthan, contended the convict was being provided all necessary treatment in jail. Basant added that his client is 85-year-old and is he likely to commit an offence again.

Asaram is serving a life term at Jodhpur Central Jail in connection with the rape of a minor girl. On May 6, he had tested positive for Covid-19 and was shifted to AIIMS, Jodhpur. According to his May 19 medical report he was stable and fit for discharge. He initially moved the high court seeking bail for ayurvedic treatment, but his application was dismissed. The high court had directed the district and jail administration to ensure that proper treatment is provided to him at a suitable medical institution. He challenged this order in the top court.

The Rajasthan government had informed the Supreme Court that he was not cooperating with the doctors at AIIMS Jodhpur with an ulterior motive of shifting of venue of his custody. The state government averred that Asaram has made third attempt to get his sentence suspended, under the garb of medical treatment.

The state government, in an affidavit, challenging the bail plea for ayurvedic medical treatment, said: “In previous round of petitions, the accused had prayed for immediate medical surgery of his ailment, through allopathic method, which failed and now the accused through this present petition raised his concern to get his treatment from Ayurveda.”

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