Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim has been sentenced to 10 years in jail for rape. The sentence was announced on Monday afternoon by a special CBI court.
The sentence was passed by Jagdeep Singh, a special CBI judge, in a makeshift court in the Sunaria jail where Ram Rahim, 50, had been lodged since his conviction on Friday.
Reports said Ram Rahim broke down in court when the sentence was being read out.
No immediate violence was reported by Dera followers post the sentence. Earlier, on Friday, soon after the Dera chief was convicted for rape, his followers resorted to large scale violence across Haryana and Punjab in which 38 people were killed and more than 250 injured.
To avoid any kind of violence post the sentence, a special courtroom was set up in the Sunaria Jail in Rohtak, where the Dera chief was lodged since his conviction on Friday.
The Haryana government made arrangements to directly fly the judge inside the jail.
Judge Jagdeep Singh and his two staff members came to the jail in a chopper. This special arrangement for the judge was directed by the Punjab and Haryana High Court.
The judge awarded the 10-year jail term after hearing arguments on the quantum of sentence by prosecution and defence lawyers.
On Friday Ram Rahim was convicted by the special court in Panchkula.
Ram Rahim was found guilty of rape in a case that stemmed from an anonymous written complaint in April 2002 that he had sexually exploited two female followers. The case was registered by the CBI in December 2002 on the directions of the Punjab and Haryana High Court. The Dera chief had refuted all charges leveled against him in the case.
The case against was registered in 2012 on the directions of the Punjab and Haryana High Court after anonymous letters were circulated about the alleged sexual exploitation of two ‘sadhvis’ (female followers) by the Dera chief.
The CBI filed the chargesheet against the Dera head in Ambala court in July 2007. The chargesheet 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 Dera chief was also transferred to Panchkula CBI Court.
In July 2017, the court ordered daily hearing and arguments of prosecution and defence were concluded on August 17, 2017.
(With inputs from PTI)