The Gujarat High Court yesterday rejected a plea for temporary bail moved by Asaram Bapu, finding that no new ground has been presented for his release and further that his release may serve to aggravate the COVID-19 pandemic.
Asaram Bapu had moved the plea citing the present pandemic situation, arguing that he was more vulnerable of getting infected if he remained in jail since he has been suffering from various ailments and is 84 years of age.
Asaram had sought for being released on temporary bail for a four-month period.
Justice AS Supehia, however, highlighted that if Asaram were to be released, it is likely that his thousands of followers would congregate to meet him and worse the COVID-19 crisis.
The Court noted in matter of Asaram Bapu,
“The applicant in the present application has made a specific averment that he has number of followers all over the world and in India.”
“.. it would not be apposite to release the applicant on bail in light of the prevailing situation of Covid 2019, since there is a strong possibility that on release of the applicant, his thousands of followers will congregate to meet him, which will aggravate the distressing situation.”
The Court also noted that a bail application filed on the same grounds by the Asaram Bapu was rejected in March as that the applicant was charged for serious criminal offences under the Indian Penal Code.
In 2018, a Jodhpur Court had convicted the self-styled godman and two other accused in another rape case involving a minor victim.
Justice Supehia added that Asaram’s case would not fall under any of thecategories mentioned in the guidelines issued by the High-Power Committee constituted pursuant to the Supreme Court’s directive decongest prisons amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Court also recorded that according to the State’s submission, the jail authorities in Rajasthan jail where Asaram is lodged were taking ample precautions to guard against the spread of COVID-19.
Read the order here: