New Delhi: The Supreme Court today sought to know the status of trial in a rape case involving self-styled preacher 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 Asaram and was today hearing one more application moved by him, asked the state government to file the report by January 22.
Senior advocate Siddharth Luthra and advocate Saurabh Ajay Gupta, appearing for petitioner Asaram, said there were two cases pending against him — one each in Gujarat and Rajasthan.
“In the Gujarat case, out of 92 witnesses, 22 material witnesses have been examined, 14 of them are dropped and rest need to be examined,” he said.
Counsel appearing for Gujarat government said she needed some time to file the report.
The bench listed the matter for January 22 for further hearing at the request of the counsel.
On August 28, the apex court had expressed anguish over the tardy pace of progress in the rape case and had asked the state government to file the report.
It had told the state government that directions for expediting recording of evidence were given in April last year, even after which there was a delay in the trial.
On April 12 last year, the apex court had asked the Gujarat trial court to expedite the recording of evidence of prosecution witnesses in a sexual assault case lodged by two Surat-based sisters against Asaram.
It had asked the Surat trial court to record the testimonies of the 46 remaining prosecution witnesses, including the alleged rape victims.
Earlier, the top court had refused to grant bail to Asaram on various grounds in the two sexual assault cases lodged in Rajasthan and Gujarat.
The apex court, while dismissing his bail plea on January 30 last year, had observed that Asaram had placed a “fictitious document” to persuade the court to grant him bail and ordered registration of an FIR against those responsible for preparing and filing the alleged fake papers.
The Gujarat government had then told the top court that the rape case registered against Asaram would very likely proceed in an expeditious manner and trial would be completed in six months.
The two Surat-based sisters had lodged separate complaints against Asaram and his son Narayan Sai, accusing them of rape and illegal confinement among other charges.