New Delhi: In a setback to self-styled godman Asaram Bapu, accused of rape of a minor girl, the Supreme Court on Thursday refused to grant him interim bail on medical grounds.
The court, however, asked the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) to constitute a three-member medical board to examine him for the ailments he is complaining about.
Asaram is lodged at the Central Jail in Jodhpur in Rajasthan since September 2, 2013, and is being tried under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act (POCSO).
The 72-year-old Asaram was arrested after a 16-year-old girl lodged a police complaint on August 20, 2013, accusing him of sexually assaulting her at his ashram in Jodhpur.
Refusing to interfere with the Rajasthan High Court order that rejected Asaram’s plea for bail, an apex court bench of Justice Madan B. Lokur and Justice R.K. Agrawal on Thursday asked the AIIMS Director to constitute the medical board to examine him.
Directing for the submission of the board’s report in 10 days, the bench did not accept Asaram’s plea that he be released on interim bail for a month or two so that he could travel to Kerala for ‘Panchkarma’ ayurveda treatment.
The high court had said it was not a fit case for the grant of bail when the trial is almost at its fag end. Asaram had then moved the apex court.
Asaram’s counsel Raju Ramachandran assailed the August 9 high court order, contending that it has not taken into account the ailments afflicting the self-styled godman.
Ramachandran told the apex court that Asaram had poor control over his urination and bowel movement and the jail doctors have said that he defecates in bed.
The bench was unmoved as the senior counsel urged it to keep the plea for interim bail pending so that the same could be taken up along with the report by the medical board.
“How can you have objection to (Asaram to be examined by the) medical board?” Justice Lokur asked as Ramachandran resisted the bench’s suggestion to refer the self-styled godman to the board for medical examination.
Ramachandran told the court that Asaram was earlier examined by a panel of AIIMS doctors and that the court was told on January 5, 2015, that he needed no surgery and could be treated through medications.
The panel of AIIMS doctors had examined Asaram for his neurological aliment — Trigeminal neuralgia.
The apex court on October 15, 2014, had asked the AIIMS to constitute a medical board to go through medical papers and reports of Asaram and, if required, clinically examine him.
Prior to Asaram’s examination by the AIIMS doctors, the self-styled godman was examined by doctors at the S.N. Medical College at Jodhpur, who said that Asaram was suffering from age-related ailments, including Trigeminal neuralgia.
The medical college doctors had examined Asaram on August 19, 2014, on the directions of the top court.