Panchkula (Haryana), Aug 25 (IANS): A CBI special court on Friday held the controversial Dera Sacha Sauda sect chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh guilty and convicted him on charges of raping and sexually exploiting two female disciples.
Trial court judge Jagdeep Singh announced the verdict amid unprecedented security here. The sentence will be pronounced by the court on Monday.
The sect chief was present in the court when the judgment was given in Panchkula town, adjoining Chandigarh. Outside, tens of thousands of his supporters were massed along with thousands of security personnel.
The rape victims, despite threats and pressures all along, stood their ground on rape and sexual harassment allegations during the nearly 15-year hearing of the case in court.
Allow security forces to use force: HC to Haryana: As tens of thousands of Dera supporters gathered in Panchkula ahead of a CBI court pronouncing its judgment in a rape case against sect chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh, the Punjab and Haryana High Court asked the authorities to allow security forces to use force "if the situation warrants".
In its resumed hearing here, a bench of Justices S.S. Saron, Surya Kant and Avneesh Jhingan also categorically told the Haryana government that politicians, including ministers, should not be allowed to visit Panchkula, where the CBI court is located. "If the politicians interfere, they needed to be booked," said the judges.
The High Court also directed the police to videograph any cases of arson, and arrest those responsible for that.
Expressing gratitude to the media for highlighting the exact situation, the judges said they had information that some followers of the Dera chief might resort to self-immolation in case the verdict goes against the sect leader.
"Suicide is not without instigation, and instigation itself is an offence," the bench said, adding they did not want to see police men being beaten up.
The High Court on Thursday asked the Centre to provide additional forces ahead of the judgment.
The court's observation came when the petitioner's counsel Ravinder Singh Dhull said more than 1.5 lakh Dera followers have already reached Panchkula city despite prohibitory orders under Section 144 of the CrPC.
Apprehending violence, a Division Bench of acting Chief Justice Surinder Singh Saron and Justice Avneesh Jhingan had said they "did not want a situation similar to the Jat reservation stir".