A special CBI court in Panchkula on Friday found Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh guilty in a rape case. He is facing a minimum imprisonment of seven years, and can go up to life imprisonment.
Holding the 50-year-old Dera chief guilty of rape, CBI judge Jagdeep Singh said the quantum of sentence would be pronounced on August 28, CBI counsel HPS Verma told reporters outside the court.
A former follower had accused Singh of repeatedly raping her inside the Dera campus near Sirsa in Haryana. The incident took place in 1999. An FIR was registered in 2002. The Dera chief and the management of the sect have denied the allegations.
CBI filed the charge sheet against the Dera head in Ambala court in July 2007, about five years after the registration of the rape case. The charge sheet mentions sexual exploitation of two ‘Sadhvis’ (women followers) between 1999 and 2001.
The Special CBI court framed charges against Ram Rahim under Sections 376 (rape) and 506 (criminal intimidation) of the IPC in September 2008.
Between 2009 and 2010, the two complainants recorded their statements before the court.
The Special CBI court shifted from Ambala to Panchkula and the case against the Dera chief too was transferred to Panchkula CBI Court.
In July, 2017, the court ordered daily hearing. Arguments of prosecution and defence were concluded on August 17, 2017.
The judge fixed August 25 as the date for pronouncement of the verdict and Ram Rahim was directed to appear in person before the court the same day.