A special court in Rajasthan on Wednesday convicted Asaram Bapu and sentenced him life-imprisonment for raping a 16-year-old teen at his ashram in 2013.
The girl hails from Shahajahanpur in Uttar Pradesh. She was a student at his ashram at Chinndwara, Madhya Pradesh. The victim alleged that Asaram called her to his ashram in Manai area near Jodhpur and raped her on the intervening night of August 15 and 16.
A case was lodged by the police on November 6, 2013, under various sections of the POSCO Act, Juvenile Justice Act and IPC against Asaram and four others co-accused- Sanchita, Sharad Chandra, Prakash and Shiva who were associates at Ashram at that time.
Asaram, 77 was arrested in Indore and brought to Jodhpur on September 1, 2013.
Prakash and Shiva have been acquitted.
Special Judge Madhusudan Sharma delivered the verdict in a special makeshift court at the Jodhpur Central Jail where Asaram has been lodged since September 2, 2013.
The verdict dashed out the hopes of his thousands of followers who claim him to be innocent.
Heavy Security beefed up in the neighboring states ahead of the verdict to prevent any violence.
Asaram could have escaped the harsh decision with a minimum sentence of 10 years in Jail but judge ordered him life-imprisonment. However, he could appeal in a higher court.
The decision finally comes after he spent almost 1660 days in jail. His bail plea is rejected 12 times (6 times by trial courts, 3 times each by High Court and Supreme Court). The trail went for around 1470 days with 53 days of final argument in presence of 58 prosecution witnesses with 14 witnesses dropped by the prosecution.
“This is a historic verdict for criminal jurisprudence. The truth has won. It shows that if the law works impartially, even persons from the weakest sections of the society can take on the most influential ones and get justice,” said Ajay Pal Lamba, the IPS officer who supervised the investigation into the case.