Self-styled Godman Asaram's son Narayan Sai was today allowed by a Delhi court to be taken into 24-hour custody of Gujarat Police which secured his transit remand for producing him before a court in Surat in connection with a rape case.
The court also gave transit remand of two others arrested along with Sai in the wee hours of Wednesday from Delhi-HaryanaBorder by the Delhi Police Crime Branch.
"I grant transit remand of all the three accused for 24 hours which will start from 7 pm," Metropolitan Magistrate Dheeraj Mor said.
However, the judge said he will sign the order sheet only if the Gujarat Police will produce the case diary and statements recorded against the accused persons.
While declining the plea of 40-year-old Sai seeking transit bail to appear before concerned court in Surat, the court said there are specific allegations against them and Chief Judicial Magistrate of Surat has already issued warrants against them.
"They were conceding arrest. It was pointed out by the counsel for the accused that they were to surrender before the court, in pursuance of the CJM's warrant or order.
"The said submission cannot be separated on the face as there are specific allegations against the accused persons and further the CJM has issued warrants against them. The investigating officer has also submitted that they have already arranged the mode of exit (for transportation to Gujarat) of the accused to the concerned court.
"The counsel's arguments are not convincing. However, this court is confining itself to the transit remand," the judge said.
During the hearing in the jam packed courtroom, the Gujarat Police sought 24 hours of transit remand of the three accused -- Narayan Sai and his aides Ramesh Malhotra and Kaushal Thakur -- to produce them before the concerned court in Surat.
The Gujarat Police told the court that due to law and order problem, they cannot reveal as to how they will take the accused to Gujarat in 24 hours.
Minutes before Sai was to be produced, his supporters clashed with a group of people protesting against him outside the premises of Rohini District Courts.
The drama unfolded outside the court premises when around 200 people staged demonstration in support of and against Sai.
During the hearing, Gujarat Police said that the CJM of Surat has already issued a warrant against Sai and he has also been declared an absconder by the concerned court.
Advocate Pradeep Rana, who appeared for Sai, opposed the Gujarat Police's plea claiming that his client has been falsely implicated in the case and he was about to surrender before the court.
"I (Narayan Sai) was to surrender before the court. In order to harm my reputation, they (police) arrested me," Rana said.
He argued that his client should be granted transit bail so that he could appear before the Gujarat court.
At this juncture, the court asked Rana, "before I ask police about it, I am asking you as to why he (Sai) did not join the investigation and kept running away? You are saying he has deep roots in the society then why he never joined the investigation?"
Responding to the court's query, the defence counsel said as mandated by the law, Sai tried to get appropriate legal remedy from the courts.
"He (Sai) is being victimised. He is actually wondering as to what is going on," Rana said adding that the media has projected his client as a criminal.
To this, the magistrate made it clear to the defence counsel that "courts are not governed by media at all."
Delhi Police alleged that Sai was arrested when he was disguised as a Sikh man to evade being caught. He was sporting a red turban and a beard. He was wearing a T-shirt, trousers and a sports jacket, police said.
The Surat police had registered two complaints by two sisters- one against Asaram and the other against Sai -- of rape, sexual assault, illegal confinement and other charges.
During the arguments, the court also asked Gujarat Police about the statement given by the complainant before it.
The police said that it was also in Gujarati language.
To this the magistrate said, "I am very much surprised that you have not come up with the translated copies of the documents."
"It is very bad state of affairs of Gujarat police. Now there is high-tech mode available to produce the documents, at least you could have taken the documents on your mobile through Internet or 'Whatsapp'," the magistrate said.
When Sai and the other two accused were brought inside the courtroom, a number of lawyers tried to get 'vakalatnama' signed from the accused.
The magistrate, however, was unhappy with the advocates' conduct saying that this was not the way to behave in the courtroom and later on asked all the accused as to who were their counsel.
After Sai and the other two accused told the court about their lawyers, the magistrate requested all the other advocates to vacate the place near his dais.
Regarding accused Ramesh Malhotra, the Gujarat Police said that his name had cropped up during the probe into the case and he was with Sai till date. It said that accused Kaushal Thakur alias Hanuman was a co-conspirator.
Regarding Ramesh, DSP of Surat Shobha Bhutada said that in all the 'shivir' (camp) of Asaram and Sai, he used to come well in advance with them and used to stay in the Ashram for 7-8 days.
Sai has been booked under various sections including rape, unnatural offence, molestation, wrongful confinement, unlawful assembly, rioting armed with deadly weapon, criminal intimidation and criminal conspiracy of the IPC.
Initially, the FIR named Sai and Kaushal while Ramesh's name cropped up during investigation.
Ramesh has been booked for offences of harbouring offender and criminal conspiracy. Kaushal has also been booked for criminal conspiracy.
The younger of the two sisters had filed the complaint against Sai, accusing him of repeated sexual assault between 2002 and 2005 when she was living at the Surat ashram.
The elder sister, in her complaint against Asaram, had accused him of repeated sexual assault between 1997 and 2006 during the time she was living at his ashram on the outskirts of Ahmedabad.
Asaram, 72, is in judicial custody in Jodhpur jail after being arrested in September for allegedly sexually assaulting a minor.
Image: Asaram Bapu's son Narayan Sai