Self-styled godman Asaram Bapu was sentenced to life in prison on Tuesday by Gandhinagar Sessions Court in connection with a decade-old sexual assault case. He was convicted on Monday in a rape case filed by a Surat-based disciple in 2013 for repeatedly raping her from 2001 to 2006 when she was living in his ashram in Ahmedabad’s Motera.
According to PTI, the prosecution claimed before the court on Tuesday that Asaram was a “habitual offender” and sought life imprisonment for the self-styled godman in the case along with a heavy fine. The 81-year-old godman is currently serving a life sentence in the Jodhpur Central jail for raping a 16-year-old girl in his Jodhpur ashram in 2013.
“There is a provision of maximum life imprisonment or 10 years in jail for the offence for which Asaram has been convicted by the court. But, we have argued that he has already been convicted in another similar case in Jodhpur, and hence he is a habitual offender,” Prosecutor Kodekar told reporters outside the court after the conclusion of the arguments.
He demanded that Asaram be considered a habitual offender and given the strictest punishment. “We have submitted before the court that Asaram should get the strictest punishment for the way he kept the victim captive, raped and sodomised her and forced her to remain confined in the ashram. We told the court that he should be given life imprisonment. The court should also impose a heavy fine on him, including compensation to the victim,” the prosecutor said.
The defence lawyer said it has no objection to 10 years’ imprisonment to the jailed godman, Kodekar added. The court on Monday convicted Asaram under Indian Penal Code Sections 376 2 (C) (rape), 377 (unnatural offences), 342 (wrongful detention), 354 (assault or criminal force to woman with intent to outrage her modesty), 357 (assault) and 506 (criminal intimidation), in the case lodged by his former woman disciple in 2013.
The prosecution further stated the court had acquitted six other accused, including Asaram’s wife Laxmiben, their daughter, and four disciples who were accused of aiding and abetting the crime, for want of evidence.