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Friday, December 5, 2014

Supreme Court says "Unfair and Erroneous trial from lower courts"

Today, Sant Shri Asaram Ji Bapu has become a victim of a prejudiced trial being pursued against him due to sensational and biased reporting on the complainant and prosecution versions with mala fide intentions from the media houses of our country.  The tsunami of such allegations leveled against Sant Shri Asaram Ji Bapu, his spiritual centers across India, and his followers has shaken the conscience of every one.  Ashram legal team responsible for ensuring the legal actions were also targeted even by the other followers of Sant Shri Asaram Ji Bapu.  At times, the Ashram legal team was even alleged of being involved in framing allegations against Sant Shri Asaram Ji Bapu and questions of accountability were being asked in public forums from the Ashram legal team to answer the delays, irregularities and efforts being made to clear out this mess.  Undoubtedly, these questions have kept the Ashram legal team to their toes and many of the followers may disagree with actions taken by the team.  However, the judgment delivered by the apex court of this country has given a major relief to Sant Shri Asaram Ji Bapu, and also to the efforts being put till now by the various followers including the Ashram legal team members. 

On the judgment day of Oct 15, 2014, the apex court of our country heard patiently various petitions related to Sant Shri Asaram Ji Bapu case such as on interim bail, summoning of age related documents, constitutional invalidity of the POCSO, among others. 

Interim Bail:
The apex court under the guidance of learned Judge Sh. Thakur took a stand on the interim bail on medical grounds by communicating that “before we pass any further orders on the subject we deem it proper to request the Director of All India Institute of Medical Sciences to constitute a Board of Doctors to review the medical papers relating to the Sant Shri Asaram Ji Bapu's medical condition and to submit a report as to the need for any surgery in connection with the disease that he is allegedly suffering from.”

The apex court further made a request to the Board to submit a report as expeditiously as possible, but not later than six weeks from today. If the board is of the opinion that Sant Shri Asaram Ji Bapu needs to be brought to AIIMS, Delhi for any clinical examination, the state of Rajasthan will support and provide complete security to Sant Shri Asaram Ji Bapu so as to prevent any untoward incident. 

Summoning of Age Related Documents:
On finding a discrepancy in the age of the complainant, the Ashram legal team filed an application under section 91 of CRPC before the trial court praying for summoning of certain documents referred in the application.  The trial court dismissed the application and subsequently, the high court too dismissed the application.  These documents can assist the lower court to determine the correct age of the complainant, invalidate the complainant and prosecution version and can establish how the nexus of corrupts has built a fictitious case against a most respectable and revered saint of this country.  The apex court, after hearing both the appellant and defendants, stated that “There is in our opinion considerable merit in the submission made by Mr. Luthra (the counsel of Sant Shri Asaram Ji Bapu) that the question of the age of the victim is an important question that would fall for determination of the Trial Court. It is true that the Trial Court has already take cognizance of the offences and the trial has commenced but the question whether she was a child as on the date  of occurrence remains to be finally determined on a proper appreciation of the evidence adduced at the trial . In the circumstances the appellant's prayer for summoning of the documents in which the date of birth of the victim is given differently from what is alleged by the prosecution was absolutely legitimate and legally permissible. The Trial Court and so also the High Court in our opinion fell in error in denying to the appellant an opportunity to have the documents mentioned above summoned from the concerned quarters to provide an opportunity to the appellant to confront the witness who has signed the said documents insofar as the same recorded the date of birth differently from the one alleged by the prosecution to be her true date of birth.  

With such a strong judgment by the apex court, the apex court further set aside the earlier orders of the Trial court and the high court and issued appropriate directions for summoning of the said documents. 

Constitutional Invalidity of POCSO:
In the light of the order passed above, it was decided not to press this issue at this stage.  Therefore, the court dismissed this petition while reserving liberty for the petitioner to seek appropriate redress at an appropriate stage. 

Legal analysts believe that this judgment will definitely impact the trial proceedings and will assist in resolving the age issue of the complainant.  If the complainant turns out to be a major at the time of alleged incident, then the complete trial proceedings may become ineffective.  Therefore, after getting justice from the apex court of our country, the Ashram legal team is relatively more confident of having fair trial proceedings from the lower court.  At the same time, followers’ confidence on the Ashram legal team has increased manifolds resulting into increased expectations from the legal team.  I congratulate and communicate best wishes to the Ashram legal team and all those who are directly and indirectly involved in ensuring justice to Sant Shri Asaram Ji Bapu.