Updated March 1st, 2024 at 17:07 IST

SC refuses to entertain Asaram's plea for suspension of sentence in rape case on health grounds

New Delhi, Mar 1 (PTI) The Supreme Court on Friday refused to entertain a plea by self-styled godman Asaram, serving life term in a rape case, for suspension of the sentence because of his deteriorating health.

Edited by: Navya Dubey
Devotees of Asaram Bapu Assault His Lawyers on High Court Premises in Jodhpur, Arrested | Image:PTI
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New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Friday refused to entertain a plea by self-styled godman Asaram, serving life term in a rape case, for suspension of the sentence because of his deteriorating health.

A bench of Justice Sanjiv Khanna and Justice Dipankar Datta asked senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi to approach the Rajasthan High Court for relief after he said Asaram was willing to accept the public prosecutor's suggestion that he could undergo treatment at Madhavbaug Heart Hospital in Maharashtra's Khopoli in police custody.

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The bench asked Asaram to submit an application before the Rajasthan High Court seeking permission for treatment at Madhavbaug Heart Hospital and it would be considered in accordance with law.

Justice Khanna also flagged "deliberate attempts" by Asaram to delay the hearing of his appeal before the high court against his conviction and sentence in the case.

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The top court directed expeditious hearing of his appeal after Rohatgi said Asaram has had multiple heart attacks and suffers from anaemia with gastrointestinal bleeding, besides other age-related ailments.

In his plea filed through advocate Rajesh Gulab Inamdar, Asaram said he has served more than 11 years and 7 months in the case.

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“It is respectfully submitted that the petitioner is afflicted with a myriad of mortal health conditions, including heart disease, hypothyroidism, anaemia with gastrointestinal bleeding, benign prostatic hyperplasia, and a history of diabetes, hypertension, COVID-pneumonia and urosepsis, a fatal urinary tract infection,” the plea said.

It said Asaram has been diagnosed with ischemic heart disease and acute coronary syndrome, which means that there is a dearth of oxygenated blood supply to his heart, and melena-black, tarry stools- due to continuous intestinal bleeding.

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"The petitioner's case has put him in a lethal life-and-death situation, where his internment in prison is worsening his condition with every passing moment and can result in his terrible and painful demise. The petitioner fears that he may be consigned to the same fate suffered by Stan Swamy who died in prison while his matter was pending for hearing," the plea said.

On July 5, 2021, priest-activist Stan Swamy (84), arrested under anti-terror law in the Elgar Parishad case, died in a Mumbai hospital in the middle of his fight for bail on health grounds.

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Asaram's plea said he being at an advanced age is in a frail and anaemic state, battered by fatal diseases corroding and tormenting his body and mind, and he does not believe that he would survive the heart bypass surgery.

"He has a good case on merits and has every hope of succeeding in appeal, pending before the Rajasthan High Court at Jodhpur. However, it may not be incorrect to state that given the continued imprisonment destroying his body day-by-day, he may not live to see the day that he is finally exonerated of all allegations and his appeal is allowed and becomes final up to this court," the plea said.

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Asaram's plea said under the circumstances, he has no one to pray to but God and this court alone, and if they do not come to his aid immediately to save his life, it might be too late. He would, it said, be resigned to accept the harshest penalty of all known to mankind, the death penalty, pending appeal.

"It is respectfully submitted that the petitioner has not been granted relief for even a single day and his prayer for even a grant of parole has been rejected by the high court inter alia because the grant of parole also will be a futile exercise," it said.

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It added, "In light of the medical complexities and the petitioner's age, a suspension of the sentence is imperative to safeguard not only his health but also to prevent the imposition of a punishment that could be tantamount to a death sentence.” In 2018, the self-styled godman was convicted by a special POCSO court in Jodhpur of sexual assault, including rape, and sentenced to imprisonment for the remainder of his natural life.

He has been in custody since September 2, 2013, after being arrested in Indore and brought to Jodhpur for raping a teenage girl in his ashram that year.

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The girl had alleged in her complaint that Asaram called her to his ashram in Manai near Jodhpur and raped her on the night of August 15, 2013. PTI MNL NSD MNL SK SK

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Published March 1st, 2024 at 17:07 IST