Tribune News Service
Panchkula, October 12
A special CBI court in Panchkula on Tuesday deferred pronouncing the quantum of sentence against Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim and four others to October 18 in the murder case of a sect follower, Ranjit Singh.
Ram Rahim was produced in the court from Rohtak’s Sunaria jail via video conferencing, while four other accused were present in person.
The CBI sought death penalty for Ram Rahim, while his lawyer asked for mercy citing his social work record.
Special CBI prosecutor HPS Verma said the court reserved its order on the sentencing for October 18 on a request filed by the defence counsel that they need time to file a counter to the CBI arguments.
He said the prosecution (CBI) has sought maximum punishment against Ram Rahim under Section 302 (murder) of the IPC as he is a previous convict in two cases.
Verma added that the Dera Chief in an eight-page statement submitted before the court pleaded for leniency because of the charity work done by the dera such as tree plantation, eye camps and relief material sent to flood and earthquake-hit areas.
On October 8, the court had convicted Dera head Ram Rahim, Krishan Lal, Jasbir Singh, Avtar Singh and Sabdil Singh guilty under Sections 302 (murder) and 120B (criminal conspiracy) of the IPC.
On October 5, the Punjab and Haryana High Court had dismissed a petition filed by Ranjit Singh’s son seeking transfer of the case from Panchkula to any other special CBI court in Haryana, Punjab or Chandigarh, alleging that “everything has been manipulated through CBI public prosecutor KP Singh”.
The victim, Ranjit Singh, was shot dead on July 10,2002 at his native village in Kurukshetra.
According to the CBI, Ram Rahim hatched a conspiracy to kill the victim on the suspicion that he was behind the circulation of an anonymous letter highlighting sexual exploitation of female disciples at the dera.
There was tight security outside the district court complex.
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