LE Correspondent

Chandigarh, July 21, 2021: The Punjab and Haryana High Court has adjourned the plea of controversial preacher Rampal of the Satlok Ashram, who sought suspension of his sentence in a case of murder of women followers inside the ashram.

The matter was adjourned to November 2, 2021 by the High Court on the ground that the petitioner was yet to complete three years post-conviction for the purpose of considering his suspension plea.

Hearing the matter, the bench of Justice Augustine George Masih and Justice Ashok Kumar Verma stated that in the light of the custody certificate of the petitioner, which has been received through email from the counsel for the State, the custody period of the petitioner is short by three months for being covered by the ratio laid down by the High Court in the judgement of Dharam Pal Vs. State of Haryana. Therefore, hearing of the present application was deferred to November 2, 2021.

Rampal and other ‘dera’ functionaries were booked in November 2014 for several serious charges after they had challenged the high court directions, asking them to appear in a contempt of court matter.

The state government had deployed over 5,000 personnel from Haryana and central forces to arrest their aides after a 10-day operation, which ended with his arrest on November 19. The entire operation had cost the state exchequer Rs 26 crore. 

On October 11, 2018, a local court in Hisar had awarded life imprisonment to Rampal and his key aides following the death of four women and a child inside the ashram.

In his fresh plea for suspension of sentence and release till the HC decision in his appeal, Rampal has argued that most of those convicted with him had been released upon suspension of their sentence.

Rampal, who has been incarcerated for around six years, has submitted that he was bedridden and unwell when the alleged incident took place.

“I have been suffering from heart disease and other ailments for several weeks prior to the alleged incident. I deserve to be released on suspension of sentence during the pendency of appeal against the conviction,” he submitted in his plea.

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