New Delhi:The Supreme Court on Monday asked Rajasthan that if there was any threat to witnesses by three aides of spiritual guru Asaram Bapu – facing trial for allegedly sexually assaulting a 16 year-old-girl at his Jodhpur ashram – and also material supporting it, then it should move the high court seeking cancellation of their bail.
Asaram is being tried under the provision of Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act (POCSO).
“We will direct you that if there is any threat (to the witnesses) in the matter, you will move the high court for the cancellation of bail based on proper material (backing it),” a vacation bench of Justice Pinaki Chandra Ghose and Justice Amitava Roy told counsel for the Rajasthan government.
The order came after the state government counsel supported counsel Kamini Jaiswal telling the bench that Asaram’s aides were threatening the witnesses including a police officer associated with the case, and in this case, an FIR was lodged but noting further happened.
Karam Vir Singh, the father of the victim, had moved the top court, challenging grant of bail to the three aides – Shiva, Sharad Chandra and Shilpi.
The Rajasthan government counsel cited some Intelligence Bureau report in support of the submission by Jaiswal, who appeared for the father, that witnesses were being threatened.
Not taking kindly to the inaction on the part of Rajasthan government on the intelligence report about threats to the witnesses and FIR on threat to the police officer not being followed-up by investigation, the bench said: “You are incharge of law and order. You can’t say that FIR was registered and not investigated.”
“Are you toothless, clueless or powerless? Are you afraid?” said the court, asking the state government why did it not take steps in the matter.
Telling Jaiswal that it would take the evidence of the girl’s father on the threats by the aides with a pinch of salt, the court asked if there was any independent witness corroborating the same.
“It is the state which has to tell us that these allegations are well founded. Can we act on sentiments and emotions,” the bench asked her.
“Father of the victim was threatened in the presence of SHO Harji Ram and not in privacy and a case was registered,” Jaiswal told the court, adding the threat to the police officer was made during the course of cross-examination in the case.
The 72-year-old Asaram, who is currently lodged in Jodhpur jail, was arrested in September 2013 after the girl lodged a police complaint on August 20, 2013, accusing him of sexually assaulting her.