A special Central Bureau of Investigation court on Saturday directed Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh to be present on August 23 to hear formal framing of charges against him in connection with a 1999 case involving the rape of a female disciple.
Special judge A K Verma admitted the CBI application seeking framing of charges against Singh. Charges will be framed under Sections 376 (rape), 506 (criminal intimidation) and 509 (uttering a word or making a gesture intended to insult the modesty of a woman) of IPC, Investigating Officer Satish Dagar said outside the court to which entry of the media was barred.
Singh was not present in the court today owing to ill health, skipping a second successive appearance.
According to legal experts, the order on framing of charges against an accused can only be announced in his presence. The Dera chief is the lone accused in the case of alleged sexual exploitation involving a female sect member.
He is also an accused in two other cases related to the murders of Sirsa journalist Ram Chander Chatterpatti and Ranjeet Singh, a former Dera manager.
While five others -- Avtar Singh, Inder Sain, Jasbir Singh, Sabdil and Krishan Lal -- were accused of the Dera ex-manager's murder in 2002, Singh, along with Nirmal Singh and Kuldip Singh, was charged with Chatterpatti's killing the following year.
The bail application of Inder Sain was also argued in the court today. The court would pronounce its order on this application on August 5. The argument on framing of charges in the Ranjeet Singh murder case would begin on August 23.