Asaram Bapu claims rape victim tutored by cops, Rajasthan HC summons IPS officer
JODHPUR: The Rajasthan High Court has summoned an IPS officer for recording his evidence after an appeal challenging the conviction of self-styled godman Asaram Bapu in a rape case claimed that the victim was tutored.
A lower court had sentenced Asaram to life imprisonment in 2018 for the rape of a minor at an ashram in Jodhpur in 2013.
Jaipur’s Additional Commissioner of Police Ajay Pal Lamba has now been asked to appear on March 7 as court witness, following the plea by Asaram’s lawyers that a video recording by him might have influenced the testimony of the teenager.
Asaram has pleaded that the victim’s graphic description of the alleged crime scene – Asaram private quarters, the kutia – was influenced by a video recording of the place by the IPS officer when he was serving in Jodhpur.
The defence argued that it had no idea about the existence of the video clip until they found a mention of it in Lamba’s book, Gunning for the Godman: The true story behind Asaram Bapu’s conviction.
In his book, the then DCP (West) in Jodhpur had said that he filmed the scene of crime on his mobile phone just in case it was needed during the investigation.
Asaram’s counsel argued that the girl had not given any description of the interiors of the kutia in her handwritten complaint or the statement recorded by police on August 20, 2013.
Lamba, visited the crime scene the next day on August 21, 2013 and undertook videography of the crime scene which has been described at length in the book, the petition said.
This video had been shown to the victim and was the basis of graphic description of the crime scene by her, it claimed.
The petition argued that till the till the publication of the book, the defence had no idea about the video.
The petition said the entire prosecution case was false and fabricated and the description of the crime scene by the victim in her statements was influenced by the video taken by Lamba.
The counsel said the circumstances unequivocally supported the defence contention that victim never entered the kutia’ as alleged in the FIR and in the girl’s subsequent statements.
The public prosecutor, however, cited a disclaimer in Lamba’s book which said that some parts of the story may have been dramatised.
The division bench of Justice Sandeep Mehta and Justice Rekha Borana said it would be premature to comment that the victim was tutored by a video to describe the crime scene.
But the court expressed displeasure on the release of the book while the matter was still pending at the stage of appeal and said it may be viewed as an attempt to influence the judicial proceedings.