SC seeks Rajasthan government's response on Asaram Bapu's plea for treatment at Ayurvedic centre

NEW DELHI: The Rajasthan government has told the Supreme Court that self-styled godman Asram Bapu, serving a life term in two rape cases in a Jodhpur jail, is fit and stable but trying to change the venue of his custody on the pretext of medical treatment.

The state government made this submission to the apex court in its reply to Asaram’s fresh plea, seeking suspension of his sentence and interim bail to undergo treatment for various ailments at an ayurvedic centre near Haridwar in Uttarakhand.

Asaram is serving varying jail terms including life sentences in two sexual assault cases. “The accused/petitioner with ulterior motive has been attempting to change the venue of his custody, under the guise of medical treatment. Such change, with due respect, is an abuse of the process of law,” the state government said in an affidavit.

“The accused is also deliberately delaying the pending trial at Gandhi Nagar as well as Jodhpur, raising such pleas with mala fides whereas he is stable and fit,” it said.

The government said Jodhpur is one of the rare centres, where both the allopathic and ayurvedic treatments are available.

“The treatment to the accused may be provided by a committee of doctors of Jodhpur AIIMS and the Jodhpur Ayurveda Hospital, as may be directed by this court,” the state government said.

It also said Asaram was tested positive for COVID-19 on May 6 and was having mild symptoms, with low-grade fever and was treated properly.

On June 4, the apex court had sought the Rajasthan government’s response to Asaram’s plea for the court’s permission for the treatment at an ayurvedic centre near Haridwar.

The top court had then orally observed that it was not inclined to grant interim bail by suspending the self-styled godman’s sentence.

Ashram had sought the suspension of his sentence for two months saying he needed to get ‘holistic’ treatment of his multiple ailments at a medical centre near Haridwar.

Asaram has moved the apex court, challenging the Rajasthan High Court order which had earlier dismissed his plea for the suspension of his sentences to undergo treatment at a medical centre of his choice. The plea was filed through lawyer Saurabh Ajay Gupta.

A Jodhpur court, on April 25, 2018, had sentenced Asaram to life in prison after finding him guilty of raping a teenage girl in his ashram in 2013.

His accomplices Sharad and Shilpi were sentenced to 20 years in jail by the court in the same case for their roles.

The teenager had said in her complaint that Asaram had called her to his ashram in Manai area near Jodhpur and raped her on the night of August 15, 2013.

The 16-year-old girl from Shahjahanpur of Uttar Pradesh was studying at Asaram’s ashram in Chhindwara in the central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh. He was also convicted in a 2002 rape case and sentenced to 20 years in prison. Asharam is also facing a rape case in Surat in Gujarat.

Asaram was arrested in Indore and brought to Jodhpur on September 1, 2013, and is in judicial custody since then.