A special Central Bureau of Investigation court in Haryana’s Panchkula on Monday sentenced the Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim and four others to life imprisonment in connection to the 2002 Ranjit Singh murder case.
The other four accused include Jasbir Singh, a follower of Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh; Krishan Lal, a manager of Dera Sacha Sauda; Sabdil, the gunman of Dera chief; and Avtar Singh, an important functionary of the sect. However, one of the accused, Inder Sain, had died during the trial in 2020.
The court has also directed Gurmeet Ram Raheem to pay Rs 31 lakh fine, Abdil to deposit Rs 1.5 lakh, Krishan and Jasbir to deposit Rs 1.25 lakh, and Avtar to pay Rs 75,000. Fifty percent of the whole amount will go to Ranjit Singh’s family.
Gurmeet Ram Rahim has been lodged in Sunaria jail in Rohtak district since 2017. He is already serving his 20-year jail term for raping two female followers and has also been sentenced to life imprisonment in connection to the murder of a journalist Ram Chander Chhatrapati in 2002. He appeared through video conferencing while all the other four accused were present in the court.
The authorities have made tight security arrangements at the Panchkula District court complex and also imposed prohibitory orders over the assembly of five or more people. The arrangements were made keeping in mind the death of over 36 people in August 2017 when Gurmeet Ram Rahim was convicted for raping two female followers.
On October 8, Special CBI judge Dr. Sushil Kumar Garg held all the five accused guilty under Section 302 (murder) and Section 120B (criminal conspiracy) of the Indian Penal Code.
The two accused, Sabdil Singh and Jasbir Singh were convicted under Arms Act too.
Earlier this month, Punjab and Haryana High Court had dismissed the plea of the deceased’s son, seeking transfer of the case to another CBI court in Punjab, Haryana, or Chandigarh. He sought transfer of the case on the grounds that the presiding judge conducting the trial was unduly influenced by the accused.
Justice Avneesh Jhingan dismissed the plea and opined that the apprehensions of the petitioner weren’t reasonable, but were based upon surmises and conjectures.
“The petitioner in garb of transfer petition cannot be permitted to have bench of his choice or to get result of trial as per his wishes. With the advancement of technology and activism of social media, the allegation leveled by such litigants needs to be scrutinized very carefully. On asking of apprehensive litigant, transfer of trial at fag end would result in browbeating the Judge and interference in fair administration of justice,” noted the bench.
A former follower of self-styled godman Gurmeet Ram Rahim, Ranjit Singh was shot dead by four men on July 10, 2002 in his native village in Kurukshetra’s Khanpur Kolian.
As per the charge sheet, he was murdered over his suspected role in the circulation of an anonymous letter highlighting the sexual exploitation of female disciples on the Dera premises. As per Dera chief’s former driver and prosecution witness, Khatta Singh statement on June 16, 2002, the accused had hatched a conspiracy to kill Ranjit Singh.