Supreme Court stays HC order summoning IPS officer in Asaram rape case

The Supreme Court on Wednesday stayed a Rajasthan High Court order which had summoned the Additional Commissioner of Police, Jaipur, Ajay Pal Lamba, as a witness in connection with convicted Godman Asaram's appeal challenging his conviction by a lower court in a minor's rape case.

Appearing for the state of Rajasthan, Senior Advocate Manish Singhvi apprised the bench of Justices Indira Banerjee and J.K. Maheshwari that by the impugned order, the ACP called as a witness in the appeal and it should be stayed.

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The bench agreed with the submission and issued notice to Asaram @ Ashumal, returnable in three weeks, and stayed the impugned order passed by the Rajasthan High Court.

On January 25, 2022, the Rajasthan High Court bench of Justice Sandeep Mehta and Justice Vinod Kumar Bharwani passed the order on an interim application filed by Asaram in his appeal against his conviction order by a lower Court in a minor's rape case.

An Interlocutory Application was filed by Asaram, under Section 391 (Appellate Court may take further evidence or direct it to be taken) of the Code of Criminal Procedure, within which it was requested by the appellant to summon Additional Commissioner of Police Ajay Pal Lamba as an additional court witness for cross-examination.

It was asked by the Asaram's counsel  that Lamba be summoned as a witness, due to some excerpts in his recently published book, Gunning for the Godman- The True Story Behind Asaram Bapu's Conviction. He submitted that in the book, it has been mentioned that video recording of the place where the crime took place was taken by the officer.

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Asaram alleged that before the publication of the book, the appellant and his counsel had no idea about the said video recording of the 'kutia', where the crime took place. It was pointed out that the victim never mentioned the 'kutia' in the complaint or in the statement, but later on gave a description of the 'kutia' after she was allegedly shown the video by Lamba.

The High Court in its order had noted,

"Lamba, who was posted as DCP (West), Jodhpur at the relevant point of time, has emphatically written his memoirs and mentions that he visited the crime scene on 21.08.2013 and recorded a video thereof with his mobile phone so that it could be used for future references."

Therefore, it had allowed the IA filed by Asaram stating

"…it is directed that the witness Shri Ajay Pal Lamba, the then DCP (West), Jodhpur shall be summoned in this Court for recording his evidence as a court witness at the appellate stage for the limited purpose of extracting the truth about the video recorded."

Case Name- State of Rajasthan Vs Asharam