Self-styled Indian guru jailed for life seeks mercy

New Delhi: Self-styled Indian spiritual guru Asaram, who is serving a life sentence for raping a minor, has sent a mercy plea to Rajasthan Governor Kalyan Singh seeking dilution of his punishment citing “old age.”

Asaram, 77, described his life sentence as a “gruelling punishment” for a person his age.

On April 25, Asaram was pronounced guilty of the rape charges and imprisoned for life with a fine of Rs500,000 (Dh25,247) to be paid to the victim. Two of his associates were awarded 20 years imprisonment.

He was charged under Sections 342, 376, 506 and 509 of IPC, as well as under Section 8 of Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act (POCSO) and Sections 23 and 26 of Juvenile Justice Act.

In July, Asaram moved Rajasthan High Court (HC) challenging the life sentence. His plea is yet to be listed for hearing.

On receipt of Asaram’s mercy plea two days ago, Governor Singh forwarded it to Rajasthan Home Department seeking a detailed report on it.

The Home Department, in turn, sent it to Jodhpur Central Jail administration. It is believed that Jodhpur Central Jail administration will seek a report from district administration.

“It is true that we have received Asaram’s mercy plea. We have sought a report from the district administration and police on this,” Superintendent of Jodhpur Central Jail Kailash Trivedi told media.

In August 2013, a 16-year-old girl accused Asaram of sexually assaulting her on the night of August 15 at his Manai ashram in Jodhpur on the pretext of exorcising her from evil spirits.

The girl’s parents, who were Asaram’s followers, filed a complaint with the police in Delhi, and a case was registered after the medical examination of the girl confirmed sexual assault.

When Asaram did not appear for interrogation by August 31, Delhi Police booked him under multiple non-bailable sections of Indian Penal Code (IPC). Eventually, Jodhpur police arrested him on September 1, 2013 from his ashram, and flew him to Jodhpur, where he is imprisoned.

Asaram dismissed the girl’s allegations and went on to claim impotency as an alibi, which was subsequently rejected after he passed the potency test.

He has since been in jail and has been denied bail 12 times. The family of the victim alleged receiving threats from Asaram’s followers to drop the charges against him.


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