New Delhi, Apr 6 (PTI) The Supreme Court today pulled up the Gujarat Police for delay in completion of recording of evidence in the rape case against self-styled preacher Asaram Bapu, lodged in Jodhpur jail, and directed it to conclude the process within five weeks.
The top court questioned the state police for delay in completion of the trial in the case and said that “it cannot go like this for months”.
A bench of justices N V Ramana and S Abdul Nazeer, which sought to know the status of the trial, was told by Additional Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the Gujarat government, that the victim’s statement has been recorded.
“The prosecutrix has recorded her statement. Only the star witnesses in the case are now remaining to be examined,” Mehta said.
To this, the bench asked the ASG, how much time is needed for examining the star witnesses.
Mehta said that the process will take two-three more months to be completed.
“How much more months do you want. It cannot go on like this for months. You have to complete it in five weeks. List the matter in five weeks,” the bench said and adjourned the bail plea of Asaram.
On January 22, the Gujarat government had told the apex court that the victim in a rape case against Asaram will be examined from January 29.
The court had on January 15 sought to know the status of trial in the case and asked the Gujarat government to file a progress report on it.
Asaram’s counsel had then told the court that in the Gujarat case, out of 92 witnesses, 22 material witnesses have been examined, 14 of them have been dropped and rest need to be examined.
On August 28, the apex court had expressed anguish over the tardy pace of progress in the case and had asked the state government to file the report.
On April 12 last year, the apex court had asked the Gujarat trial court to expedite the recording of evidence of prosecution witnesses in a sexual assault case lodged by two Surat-based sisters against Asaram.
Earlier, the top court had refused to grant bail to Asaram on various grounds in the two sexual assault cases lodged in Rajasthan and Gujarat.
The two Surat-based sisters had lodged separate complaints against Asaram and his son Narayan Sai, accusing them of rape and illegal confinement, among other charges.
The elder sister, in her complaint against Asaram, had accused him of repeated sexual assaults between 2001 and 2006 when she was staying at his ashram near Ahmedabad.
In the case in Rajasthan, a teenage girl had accused him of sexual assault at his ashram in Manai village near Jodhpur.
The girl, who belonged to Shahjahanpur in Uttar Pradesh, was a student living in the ashram.
Asaram was arrested by the Jodhpur Police on August 31, 2013 and has been in the jail since then.
This is published unedited from the PTI feed.