On Monday, a special court at Rohtak prison compared Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh — who was convicted of rape last week, as a wild beast and sentenced him to 20 years in prison.
“The court is of the view that when the convict did not even spare his own pious disciples and acted like a wild beast, he does not deserve any mercy,” special CBI judge Jagdeep Sharma said at the makeshift court in the district jail of Sunaria, Haryana, where the trial for quantum of sentencing took place.
Sharma concurred with a Supreme Court observation that rape is not merely a physical assault; it destroys the whole personality of the victim. The two victims had put the Dera Chief on the pedestal of god and had revered him accordingly. However, the convict committed “the breach of gravest nature by sexually assaulting such gullible and blind followers.” He further intimidated them of dire consequences and as such did not deserve the sympathy of the court.
An act of this nature, the court found is bound to shatter the images of pious and sacred, spiritual, social, cultural and religious institutions existing in this country.
The court observed that the offence, and the manner in which it was committed must be taken into consideration. The idea behind punishing an individual is to create a deterrent not only for him but also for the society at large.
Undue sympathy in such a case would do more harm to the justice dispensation system and impact the public’s confidence in the law.
“A man who has no concern for humanity, nor has any mercy in his nature do not deserve the leniency of this court,” Sharma said.
The court also considered Singh’s wealth while imposing costs to the tune of Rs 15 lakhs. The victims would be granted Rs 14 lakh towards their compensation and rehabilitation.
The court was of the view that showing undue sympathy in such cases would do more harm to the justice dispensation system and affect the trust of the people in courts.
Apart from the rights of the victim, the collective conscience of the society must also be considered. “In a way, it is an obligation to the society which has reposed its faith in the courts to curtail evil,” the special judge observed.
“The conception of mercy has its own space but it cannot occupy the entire accommodation.”
“To call woman the weaker sex is a libel; it is man’s injustice to woman. If by strength is meant brute strength, then, indeed, is woman less brute than man. If by strength is meant moral power, then woman is immeasurably man’s superior. Has she not greater intuition, is she not more self-sacrificing, has she not greater courage? Without her man could not be. If non-violence is the law of our being, the future is with woman… Who can make a more effective appeal to the heart than woman?,” the order read, quoting Mahatma Gandhi.
During arguments, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), the agency that probed the case, contended that the Dera chief committed sexual assault on the victims who treated him like their father and used to worship him as God. By committing this crime, he had shattered the faith and exploited his victims. The CBI further added that since the victims stayed on the premises along with the convict, the heinous crime committed was no less than custodial rape.
CBI further contended that the convict was a very influential figure and must be sentenced appropriately to send a deterring message to potential offenders.
Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim repeatedly cried, howled, whimpered and begged for mercy after a special CBI court on Monday sentenced him to 20 years in jail and fined him Rs 30 lakh for raping two of his followers in 2002. The court read out two sentences of 10 years in jail and Rs 15 lakh fine for each of the two cases. Both sentences will run consecutively.
The order came two days after Ram Rahim’s conviction triggered large-scale violence and left 38 people dead in Haryana.