The Supreme Court on Monday expressed anguish over the tardy pace of progress in a rape case involving self-styled religious figure Asaram Bapu and asked the Gujarat government to file a progress report on it.
The apex court, which has earlier rejected several bail pleas by Asam and was hearing one more moved by him, also questioned the state government on why the victim in the case has not yet been examined.
“Why is there a delay despite the earlier direction for expeditious trial? Why has the victim not been examined so far,” a bench of Justices N V Ramana and Amitava Roy said.
It told the Additional Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for Gujarat government, that directions for expediting recording of evidence were given in April.
“Why has the victim’s statement not been recorded in the case so far. She is the most crucial witness in the case,” the bench observed.
Mehta told the bench that two crucial witnesses have been killed, one is missing and 17 others injured in alleged attacks.
The woman will be examined by the court after ensuring her safety, he said, adding that out of 92 material witnesses, over 45 of them have been examined so far.
Advocate Saurabh Ajay Gupta appearing for godman said that they have to prove the defence of his client (Asaram) and it is only after the victim is examined, he can press for bail.
Senior advocate Sanjay Hegde, representing the victim, sought speedy trial of the case and said that the Court should issue a direction to examine the prosecutrix before September 23, which is the next date of hearing of the case before trial court.
The bench then asked the state government to file an affidavit detailing the stage of trial and how it wished to move forward in the case. It then posted the matter for further hearing after Diwali.
Asaram was arrested by Jodhpur Police on August 31, 2013 and has been in jail since then.