Harper Collins moves Delhi HC, seeks permission to publish book on Asaram Bapu case

The book titled “Gunning for the Godman: The True Story Behind Asaram Bapu’s Conviction” was ready to be published when Asaram’s aide, Sanchita Gupta filed a civil suit 

Asaram bapu

Publishers Harper Collins, have moved Delhi HC, seeking permission to publish book on rape accused ‘godman’ Arasam Bapu, aka Asumal Sirumalani Harpalani. The publishers, through their representatives contend that, the ex-parte order passed by a district court at Patiala House, on Friday, restraining the publication of the book fell into serious errors, reported Live Law. According to the publisher’s lawyers, the courts did not consider the “set principles of law against pre-publication censorship. This they contended was against the Right to Freedom of Expression enshrined under Article 19(a) of the Indian Constitution.

Harper Collins was going to publish the book titled “Gunning for the Godman: The True Story Behind Asaram Bapu’s Conviction” when Asaram’s aide Sanchita Gupta filed a civil suit on which a Delhi court ordered a stay on the publication. Gupta had also been convicted under the POCSO Act in 2018, as she was an aide to the self proclaimed ‘godman’ rape accused Asaram. According to a September 29, 2018 report by The Hindustan times, the Rajasthan High Court had suspended the 20-year-sentence of Shilpi Gupta alias Sanchita. The HC had granted bail to Gupta on the personal bond of Rs 2 lakh with two sureties of Rs 1 lakh.

The special court for POCSO (Protection of Children from Sexual Offences) Act cases had on April 25 2018, sentenced Asaram Bapu to life imprisonment till his death. His two aides, Gupta and Sharad were sentenced to 20 years each, reported the HT. Gupta had then filed an appeal in the high court against her conviction along with an application for suspension of the sentence.  It was reported that justice Vijay Bishnoi, while pronouncing his judgment had, said “taking into consideration the facts and circumstances of the case, this court felt that her challenge to her conviction for the offences under various sections of the Indian Penal Code and the POCSO Act was ‘based on strong grounds”. “I consider it just and proper to suspend the substantive sentence to the appellant. She will appear before the trial court in the month of January of every year till the appeal is decided,” he had said in his order, as reported. 

Many news reports had been filed on the in August 16, 2013 case where a minor girl had accused Asaram of rape at his ashram in Manai village near Jodhpur. The girl, haile from Shahjahanpur in Uttar Pradesh, but stayed in the Chhindwara ashram (hostel) in Madhya Pradesh. When the girl was unwell and fainted at school one day, Gupta, the hostel warden, allegedly told the teenager’s parents that she was possessed by ‘evil spirits’ and should be sent to Asaram to be exorcised. At Asaram’s Jodhpur retreat, they were told that he would banish evil spirits in an hour alone with her. The book excerpts, which were carried by Scroll, details those events.

As reported by Lawsisto, a legal news portal, Gupta’s advocates Naman Joshi and Karan Khanuja who filed the suit on her behalf had contended that a chapter of the book which was released by an the news portal Scroll “made it evident that there were defamatory content against her which would hamper the appeal against her conviction before the Rajasthan High Court.” 

The book is authored by Sanjiv Mathur and Ajay Lamba, Additional Commissioner of Police, and is said to a factual narrative into the Rape case and how it was cracked, was scheduled to be released on September 5. According to Lawsisto’s report, advocate Vijay Agarwal who appeared on behalf of Sanchita, claimed before the court that the release of such content will be “a major blow on the appeal filed by her and is at present pending before the High Court of Rajasthan.”

According to the legal news portal, “the court had earlier already suspended her sentence. It was also argued by the counsel that an appeal is anything but the continuation of a trial and as her sentence was already suspended, a presumption of innocence already rests upon her. The chances of retrial or even reexamination of witness, by the court, in such circumstances which might trigger her case, has also been highlighted by the counsel.” 

Sanchita’s rights under Article 21 of the Constitution which might get violated in case the book gets published has also been brought to the attention of the court “along with the precedents of various cases where the court had ordered stay of many books and movies for the right of an accused person to be protected” it was reported. A stay order until September 30 had been passed restraining Harper Collins, Amazon and Flipkart from publishing and selling the book.

The book’s blurb on e-commerce sites also proclaims that it will “soon be a major motion picture” to be directed by Anubhav Sinha. “Asaram Bapu, aka Asumal Sirumalani Harpalani, serves life imprisonment in the Central Jail Jodhpur. He was convicted for the rape of a minor and also has murder charges against him. Gunning for the Godman is the no-holds-barred, first-hand account of how Ajay Lamba, then DCP Jodhpur (West), landed the case and got a team of dedicated officers together,” states the book’s online intro. It adds that the authors narrate “the story of how, foiling the Baba’s many attempts to get away scot-free, they arrested him in a matter of only ten days, and how they assiduously saw the victim and her family through a four-year long trial.”  It adds that not only the victim  and her family, “but even DCP Lamba’s own family and team faced countless threats”. 

In 2013, two sisters from Surat had filed separate complaints against Asaram and his son Narayan Sai, accusing them of rape and illegal confinement. In April 2019, a local court in Surat sentenced Narayan Sai to life imprisonment after the younger sister accused him of repeatedly raping her between 2002 and 2005 when she was living at his ashram, recalled Scroll in a recent report.

Asaram was convicted in April 2018, in a separate rape case, he had been accused of the crime by a 16-year-old girl in 2013 in Rajasthan, He continues to serve the life term punishment he was awarded by court.



Asaram Bapu’s son Narayan Sai convicted for rape

Asaram convicted, given life sentence for raping minor girl





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