Ram Rahim begs for mercy, CBI Judge Jagdeep Singh sentences him to 20 years in jail

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Isaac Gomes(Note:  A special CBI court set up inside the Rohtak jail on Monday sentenced Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh to twenty years of rigorous imprisonment (RI) for raping two sadhvis in the Dera complex in Sirsa in 2002. Special CBI judge Jagdeep Singh handed down 10 years of RI each in the two rape cases. The judge remarked that Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh, even though he persistently appealed for clemency with folded hands, acted like a beast and did not spare his devotees (sadhvis). Therefore, he does not deserve mercy.  Over and above, sentencing Gurmeet Singh to twenty-years' rigorous imprisonment, the judge also ordered Gurmeet to pay compensation of Rs 14 Lac to each of the two rape victims. He said that the Dera Chief was very well-off to pay this compensation. If he fails, his prison term would go up by another two years. One of the two victims who had the courage to depose in 2009, said that she was pressurised severely and repeatedly through the Dera Chief's messengers, to withdraw the case. But she refused to budge.  She said she was happy with the judgement and that justice has at last prevailed. After doing the fact-finding CBI had convinced 18 women to give witness, but only two came forward to give evidence despite severe pressure and threats. 

As per indiatoday report dated 29 August 2017 by Meetu Jain, for the CBI officers who doggedly pursued the case, it was an investigation fraught with many challenges, particularly because their suspect was so politically connected.  

Former CBI director Vijay Shankar, under whom the CBI filed a chargesheet in the case in 2007, says the investigative agency managed to do its job, but admits that there was political pressure. "Everyone knows which politician was prostrating before this man and how much they compromised the victims," Shankar told India Today.

"Be it the Congress or the BJP or the Akalis, everyone was beholden to this baba," Shankar says, pulling no punches. The ex-CBI chief goes on to recall how a senior minister from the Haryana administration came to him to talk about the case.  

"A senior minister from Haryana came to discuss the case with me. And I told him bluntly that I am ashamed of what he did and you are doing 'sifarish' for this man. The minister did not return," Shankar says, refusing to identify the minister by name.

Shankar recalls another such instance. "There was another politician from Haryana, one of the richest and amongst the youngest, who came to me.  I had to give him a mouthful," the former CBI chief said, adding that the pressure had started building from 2005 onwards, when the CBI kickstarted a probe that CBI special director ML Sharma says was lying dormant. Isaac Gomes, Church Citizens' Voice).

 

ROHTAK/CHANDIGARH: A special CBI court set up inside the Rohtak jail on Monday sentenced Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh to 20 years of rigorous imprisonment for raping two sadhvis in the Dera complex in Sirsa in 2002. The judge handed down 10 years of RI each in the two rape cases.

Counsel for the Dera head SK Garg Narwana told TOI that both the jail terms would run consecutively, not concurrently. Narwana said the order would be challenged before the Punjab and Haryana high court.

CBI counsel Sumeet Goel said any decision on challenging the order for enhancing the sentence would be taken after examining the fine print of the order. Special CBI judge Jagdeep Singh also slapped a fine of Rs 30 lakh on Gurmeet. Of this, Rs 28 lakh will be divided between the two rape survivors who stuck to their statements for the past 15 years despite intense pressure from various quarters.

The special CBI judge was flown to the Rohtak jail by a helicopter from Chandigarh. During the hearing, he snubbed the prosecution agency for providing VIP treatment to the Dera head after his conviction on Friday. The judge specifically asked about permitting the accused to carry special luggage along with him after the conviction in Panchkula and a woman accompanying him up to the jail.

The library of the jail complex was converted into a courtroom for the hearing.

During arguments, the CBI counsel demanded harsh punishment for the Dera head, given the heinous nature of the crime and the fact that the sadhvis whom he raped were in his shelter. Narwana, however, sought a mild sentence considering Gurmeet's contribution to "Swachhta Abhiyan" (cleanliness drives) and other social services.

Gurmeet broke down after hearing the sentence and requested leniency. He kept standing in the courtroom and pleaded before the judge to reduce the jail term. Virtually in tears, he kept repeating that he had been framed. The 50-year-old remained adamant for almost 10 minutes. He refused to leave the courtroom and insisted that he did not want to go back to the jail barracks.

When Gurmeet Ram Rahim complained to the judge that he wasn't given tea in jail when he asked for it, the judge said that he would be entitled to whatever other prisoners get under the prison manual.

Given that Gurmeet did not spend a single day in jail after being booked for rape in 2002, he will have to spend at least half his sentence behind bars before he becomes eligible for bail. However, it is the judge's discretion whether to give him bail.

Reports of sadhvis being raped first surfaced in 2002 when an anonymous letter sent to then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee alleging sexual exploitation inside the Dera by Gurmeet.

Taking suo motu cognisance of the letter, the Punjab and Haryana HC had handed over the case to the CBI. A rape case was registered against the Dera head on December 12, 2002. He was held guilty on August 25 after which there was widespread violence and arson in Panchkula in which about 38 people were killed.

HIGHLIGHTS

  • The judge handed down 10 years of RI each in the two rape cases.
  • Both the jail terms would run consecutively, not concurrently.
  • Special CBI judge Jagdeep Singh also slapped a fine of Rs 30 lakh on Gurmeet.

Meet Jagdeep Singh, the judge who sentenced Dera chief Ram Rahim to 20 years in prison

 Updated: Aug 28, 2017 23:20 IST

Surender Sharma

Surender Sharma 
Hindustan Times, Chandigarh

Special CBI Judge Jagdeep Singh joined the Haryana judicial services in 2012 and was posted at Sonepat. The CBI court posting, which is generally given after a lot of checks by the high court administration, is his second posting.

Jagdeep Singh is described by his colleagues as a very competent, tough and upright judge with a no-nonsense attitude.

He is the man of the moment. Special CBI judge Jagdeep Singh was flown into Rohtak jail on Monday morning in a helicopter to pronounce the sentence on self-styled godman Ram Rahim Singh.

The judge sentenced he ‘godman’ to two 10-year prison terms that will run consecutively.

Singh, who pronounced Singh guilty of raping two women in a heavily guarded courtroom on Friday, is known for his competence and toughness. Eyewitnesses recall how he didn’t let the tense atmosphere in Haryana’s Panchkula — more than 200,000 dera followers had camped in the city — to unfaze him as he walked into the court on Friday.

Soon after, Singh convicted Sirsa-based Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim in a 15-year-old rape case, filed by two of his women followers. 

A very competent, tough and upright judge with a no-nonsense attitude. That is how Singh is described by his colleagues in the legal fraternity.

An additional district and sessions judge rank official, Singh was designated as the CBI special judge last year. This is his second posting as a judicial officer.

Singh joined the Haryana judicial services in 2012 and was posted at Sonepat. The CBI court posting, which is generally given after a lot of checks by the high court administration, is his second posting.

Prior to joining the judicial service, he was a Punjab and Haryana high court lawyer. “Singh likes keeping a low profile and is a man of few words. But all those who know him vouch for his competence and integrity,” said a lawyer who has practiced with him. Singh, who hails from Haryana, took up both civil and criminal cases between 2000 and 2012.

 

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