A court in Rajasthan’s Jodhpur framed charges against spiritual guru Asaram Bapu, over five months after he was arrested for allegedly sexually assaulting a minor girl, a lawyer said. Pradeep Choudhary, one of the lawyers representing Asaram, said the court of district and sessions judge, Jodhpur (rural) has dropped section 26 of Juvenile Justice Act, while retaining all the other charges under the Indian Penal Code and the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act.
“Charges will be read out to the accused persons Feb 13,” the lawyer said. Asaram is booked for rape, criminal intimidation, wrongful confinement, assault or criminal force to woman with intent to outrage her modesty, word, gesture or act intended to insult the modesty of a woman and criminal conspiracy under the Indian Penal Code and some sections of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act.
The court also framed charges against four co-accused in the case and Asaram’s aides Shilpi, Shiva, Prakash and Sharad. Police had filed a charge sheet against Asaram in November. On Aug 20, a 16-year-old girl lodged a police complaint accusing Asaram, 72, of sexually assaulting her at his ashram near Jodhpur.
In her complaint, she alleged that Asaram’s aides sent her to his Jodhpur ashram on the pretext that she was under the influence of an “evil spirit” and the spiritual guru could perform an exorcism. Asaram was arrested from his ashram in Indore, Madhya Pradesh, and brought to Jodhpur Sep 1. He is lodged in the Jodhpur Central Jail since Sep 2.