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Supreme Court raps Gujarat government over slow trial in rape case against Asaram Bapu



Supreme Court raps Gujarat government over slow trial in rape case against Asaram Bapu

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Asaram has been in jail since August 31, 2013 for allegedly raping a 16-yearold schoolgirl and is facing prosecution under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act. He has also been accused of rape by two Surat-based sisters, a case that is pending trial in Gandhinagar

 Hours before a special CBI court sentenced Dera Sachha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim to serve 10 years in prison for allegedly raping two of his followers in 2002, the Supreme Court, on Monday, ticked off the Gujarat government for dragging its feet in the trial of another self-styled Godman – Asaram Bapu – in a rape case that dates back to 2013.

The apex court was hearing a bail plea moved by Asaram, who has been lodged in a jail in Jodhpur, Rajasthan since August 2013. The court, which has rejected several bail pleas moved by the Godman earlier, also questioned the Gujarat government on why the victim in the case had not yet been examined.

“Why is there a delay despite the earlier direction for expeditious trial? Why has the victim not been examined so far…she is the most crucial witness in this case”, a bench of Justices N V Ramana and Amitava Roy said. The Bench, which posted the matter for its next hearing after Diwali, also directed Additional Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, who was appearing for the Gujarat government, to file a progress report in the case by the next date of hearing.

Mehta informed the Bench that two crucial witnesses in the case had been killed while one is missing and 17 others injured in different attacks. He said that the woman will be presented in the court for examination once the government can ensure her safety. The counsel also pointed out that 45 out of 92 material witnesses in the case had been examined so far.

Advocate Saurabh Ajay Gupta, who appeared for Asaram, said that the counsel of the accused have to prove the Godman’s defence for which examination of the victim is important as they will not be able to press for bail until this legal requirement is met with.

The victim’s lawyer, senior advocate Sanjay Hegde, sought speedy trial of the case and said that the court should issue a direction to examine his client beforeSeptember 23, which is the next date of hearing of the case before the trial court.

Asaram, who has been lodged in a jail in Jodhpur, Rajasthan since August 2013, is accused of raping a 16-year-old schoolgirl at his ashram earlier that year. The minor girl, a resident of Shahjahanpur in Uttar Pradesh, had claimed that she was raped by Asaram while staying in his ashram in Manai village near Jodhpur. Asaram faces prosecution under provisions of the stringent Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act of 2013 based on the girl’s complaint and has been in jail since filing of FIR in 2013.

The 76-year-old Godman is also accused in another case of rape registered in Gujarat which was filed by two Surat based sisters who had accused Asaram and his son Narayan Sai of sexually assault between 2001 and 2006 while they were staying at Asaram’s ashram in Surat. The trial in this case is pending in a court in Gandhinagar.

This is not the first time that the apex court has noted unnecessary delay in the case. On April 12, the court had asked a trial court in Gujarat to expedite the recording of evidence of prosecution in the cases filed by the Surat sisters.

The apex court, on November 18 last year, had also noted that the prosecution witnesses were being attacked and sought the response of the Centre and the five states on a plea seeking a CBI probe into the alleged murders and attacks on witnesses.

On January 30, the court while dismissing his bail plea had observed that a fake document had been submitted in the court to persuade them to grant him bail. The court had then ordered registration of an FIR against those responsible for preparing and filing the alleged fake papers.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

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Lucknow court shootout: Western UP gangster shot dead by man dressed as lawyer

Maheshwari himself was a dreaded shooter and was booked under several other criminal cases. He was also said to be a close aide of Munna Bajrangi, who was killed while serving time in Baghpat prison in 2018.  



Gangster Sanjeev Jeeva

Security in India’s courtrooms and court complexes were again exposed on Wednesday when gangster Sanjiv Maheshwari, also known as Sanjiv Jeeva, was shot dead by a man dressed as a lawyer right inside a Lucknow court.

Sanjeev Maheshwari had come to the SC/ST court for hearing in a murder case and was entering the courtroom when the shooter opened fire, injuring a young girl and a policeman.

Maheshwari, who led a criminal gang in Western UP, was said to be a close aide of gangster-politician Mukhtar Ansari. He was accused in the murder case of BJP MLA Brahmadatt Dwivedi. Ansari is currently serving life imprisonment. The shooter was nabbed by lawyers in court and police and has been identified as Vijay Yadav.

Maheshwari himself was a dreaded shooter and was booked under several other criminal cases. He was also said to be a close aide of Munna Bajrangi, who was killed while serving time in Baghpat prison in 2018.  

The police constable injured in the attack sustained a bullet wound in his right leg and his colleagues helped him out of the court complex. He is undergoing treatment in the Lucknow Civil Hospital. Meanwhile, heavy police deployment has been made in the Lucknow court as well as the city after the shootout.

Commented on the law and order situation in UP, Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav said the question is not who is being killed but the question is that one is being killed in the presence of high security.

In his reply to a journalist’s question on the incident, UP Deputy Chief Minister Keshav Prasad Maurya said the police will not spare anyone who is involved in the killing.

Lucknow DM Surya Pal Gangwar told the media that Maheshwari was shot dead, a girl of 8-10 years has also been injured. He added the shooter has been caught and the investigation into the incident has begun.

In Delhi, gangster Jitender Gogi was killed in a shootout in a Rohini court in 2021. The inter-gang rivalry ended with the knifing murder of Tillu Tajpuriya inside Tihar Jail in May this year.

The security of local courts has been a matter of concern for judges with former Chief Justice of India Justice NV Ramana raising it with the government.

A three-member SIT (Special Investigation Team) including Mohit Agarwal ADG Technical, Joint CP Nilabja Chaudhary, Ayodhya IG Praveen Kumar has been constituted to investigate the incident: UP CM Yogi Adityanath.

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Wrestlers meet Sports Minister Anurag Thakur, put forth 5 demands, protest still on but suspended till June 15

On Wednesday morning, Sports Minister Anurag Thakur and the top wrestlers, led by Olympic Medallist Bajrang Punia, began a crucial meeting at Anurag Thakur’s residence.



Wrestlers Protest

With the Central government offering to complete the probe against Wrestling Federation of India chief Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh by June 15, Olympian Bajrang Punia told the media that the agitation by the wrestlers will be suspended till then.

On Wednesday, the wrestlers met Sports Minister Anurag Thakur at his residence after the minister had tweeted late last night that he looked forward for a discussion with the protesters.

Reports said the wrestlers represented by Sakshi Malik and Punia have made five demands in the meeting with Anurag Thakur. Their demands were: (1) Free and fair elections for the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI), (2) a woman to be made the WFI chief, (3) withdrawal of the Delhi Police case against the wrestlers registered on May 28, (4) the arrest of Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh and (5) preventing Brij Bhushan or his family or his acolytes from being part of WFI.

Punia, Sakshi Malik, and her husband Satyawart Kadiyan, who is also a wrestler, attended the meeting. Vinesh Phogat did not attend the meeting as she was to attend a pre-scheduled panchayat in her village Balali, Haryana. Bharatiya Kisan Union leader Rakesh Tikait, who supports the protesting wrestlers, did not attend the meeting.

In the space of five days, this is the second meeting between the protesting wrestlers and the government. Wrestlers met Home Minister Amit Shah on Saturday night and briefed him on their demands. Shah had asked them to trust the investigation process.

The wrestlers have been demanding the arrest of Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh, who they have accused of sexual harassment, since January this year. The wrestlers resumed their protest against Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh on April 23 at Jantar Mantar. On May 28, they were removed from the protest site by police and detained for violation of law and order after they began a march to the new Parliament building without permission. The police action resulted in an iconic photograph of Sangeeta and Vinesh Phogat.

The rub in this melee is that while the government is willing to accept most of their demands, the arrest of Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh, who is also the BJP MP from Kaiserganj, and wields significant clout in that part of Uttar Pradesh, remains a tricky question.

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Section 144 imposed in Kolhapur after clashes break out over socmed post with offensive audio message, Tipu Sultan photo  

The Law and order is the state affair and Maharashtra government takes the responsibility of it. He also appeals to the public for peace and calm. Police investigation is under way and action will be taken against those found guilty.



Kolhapur clash

Prohibitory orders have been issued in Kolhapur on Wednesday banning the assembly of five or more persons till June 19 after clashes broke out between two groups. Right-wing outfits objected to the use of Tipu Sultan’s image along with an objectionable audio message as a social media status put up by a few residents. Police had to lathicharge to disperse the crowd as the situation became tense.

Police have also applied for banning mobile internet from Wednesday till Thursday evening to prevent the issue from snowballing. On Tuesday, a group of right-wing activists held a protest demanding action against those who put the image of the 18th-century Mysore ruler along with an offensive message on their social media profiles. Police assured action and told them to return. Police also informed the protesters they had booked some people in connection with the post.

Kolhapur SP Mahendra Pandit said the protesters again hit the streets on Wednesday. Few organisations had called for a Kolhapur bandh and the members of these organisations gathered at Shivaji Chowk early today. After their demonstration ended, the crowd began to disperse but some miscreants started pelting stones, forcing police to use force against these people to disperse them. The SP also said they appealed to the agitators to maintain peace and withdraw the agitation.

Dipak Kesarkar, guardian minister and minister of education and Marathi language, said action has been taken against those who had used Tipu Sultan’s image along with an objectionable audio message with the detention of 21 people so far.

Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shinde appealed for calm and peace. He said law and order is a state responsibility and the Maharashtra government will act. Police investigation is under way and action will be taken against those found guilty. Maharashtra Deputy CM Devendra Fadnavis said this was part of a larger well-thought out plan by some people.

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