Punjab and Haryana High Court will today hear an appeal by Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh against his conviction in the rape cases along with the petitions filed by two victims who have sought life imprisonment for the jailed Dera Sacha Sauda chief.
Ram Rahim has sought directions for setting aside the August 25 order of his conviction and the subsequent order of August 28 sentencing him to 20 years in jail.
A special CBI court had convicted Ram Rahim for rape of two female disciples in 1999. CBI Judge Jagdeep Singh had pronounced two sentences of 10 years rigorous imprisonment in each of the two cases that date back to 2002. The court had also fined him Rs 15 lakh in each of the two cases.
Ram Rahim is currently lodged in Sunaria jail in Rohtak district of Panchkula.
The two women, who were raped by Ram Rahim, have also moved the Punjab and Haryana High Court demanding his punishment be extended to a life term.
The victims have said that the Dera chief broke their trust and misused his position as a religious and spiritual leader while seeking life imprisonment for the rapist.
In April 2002, an anonymous letter was written to the then Chief Justice of Punjab and Haryana High Court, complaining about alleged sexual exploitation of women followers at Dera Sacha Sauda in Sirsa.
Then in May 2002, the High Court directed the Sirsa district and session judge to probe the allegations in the letter. In September 2002, the High Court had handed over the matter to the CBI after a district court indicated possibility of sexual exploitation.
In December 2002, the CBI registered a case of rape, criminal intimidation against Ram Rahim.
The CBI had filed a chargesheet against the Dera head in Ambala court in July 2007.
The chargesheet mentioned about sexual exploitation of two ‘sadhvis’ (women followers) between 1999 and 2001.
In September 2008, the special CBI court framed charges against Ram Rahim under sections 376 (rape) and 506 (criminal intimidation) of the IPC
On August 17, 2017, the arguments of prosecution and defence concluded and the Special CBI Judge Jagdeep Singh on August 25 convicted Ram Rahim in the rape case.
(With PTI inputs)