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Interim bail for dera chief
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 29
Even as the Punjab government has upped the ante on the Dera issue by granting sanction to prosecute and arrest Dera Sacha Sauda chief Sant Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh, the Punjab and Haryana High Court today came to the rescue of the beleaguered Sant by granting him interim bail and also issued a notice of motion to Punjab for August 6.

Justice L.N. Mittal stated in his order, following a petition by the Dera chief that he be granted anticipatory bail, that “the petitioner (Dera chief), if arrested, shall be released on interim bail to the satisfaction of the arresting officer subject to conditions specified in Section 438(2) of the Code of Criminal Procedure. The petitioner shall also surrender his passport before the arresting officer”.

An FIR bearing No 262, dated May 20, under Section 295-A IPC was lodged against the dera chief at Police Station Kotwali, Bathinda, by Rajinder Singh Sidhu who claimed himself to be the president of Khalsa Diwan Guru Singh Sabha, Bathinda.

Following the registration of the FIR, the Punjab Police had obtained non-bailable production warrants against the dera chief from a Bathinda court and sought the permission of the Punjab government, as directed by the court, to arrest and start prosecution of Sant Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh.

It was alleged in the FIR that advertisements had appeared in newspapers on May 13 showing Sant Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh in a dress similar to the one worn by the tenth Sikh Guru Sri Guru Gobind Singh. A ritual starkly similar to the Sikh baptisation ceremony was also allegedly performed by the Dera chief.

Strongly questioning the veracity of the FIR, the petitioner’s counsel submitted that the complaint was politically motivated and frivolous. It was stressed that no offence under Section 295-A IPC could be made out from the contents of the FIR.

He also averred that the petitioner had never imitated or tried to act like Guru Gobind Singh and, moreover, had apologised twice to assuage the hurt feelings of the Sikh community.

Hammering on the good Samaritan image of the dera, the petitioner’s counsel averred that the Dera’s name had found place in the Guinness Book of World Records as well as the Limca Book of Records for blood donation. The dera also organised spiritual santsangs and was engaged in various noble causes.

Touching upon the philosophical moorings of the Dera, counsel further submitted that whole spiritual edifice of the Dera was built upon the theme “Only God is worth praise who is known by various names”. The petitioner’s counsel averred that the furore had political genesis, as some news reports had suggested, and that the dera was being hounded for its reported support to the Congress.

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