In view of repeated adjournments due to Asaram's absence citing health grounds, the district and session court hearing the sexual assault case against the self-styled godman on Thursday ordered that the trial will not be stalled anymore on the account of absence of any accused.
The court, while admitting the application of the prosecution seeking permission to continue the trial in the absence of Asaram, gave directions to the defence to proceed with the trial from next date on May 5.
"The court admitted our application and ordered the defence to continue with the trial, even if any accused was absent from the court," Public Prosecutor RL Meena said. Meena said now the trial would continue from May 5 when the victim girl will be cross-examined by the defence even if Asaram does not appear in the court.
The trail was stalled on the account of continuous absence of Asaram from the court on health grounds. After the prosecution completed the statements of the teenage victim on April 21, the court had listed the matter for cross-examination of the girl by defence on April 25.
But since Asaram did not appear in the court on the day and the following dates due to ill health, the matter kept getting adjourned. The prosecution then moved an application in the court under Section 317 of CrPC seeking an order to ensure that the trial is not affected due to the absence of the accused.
Hearing the arguments, Judge Manoj Kumar Vyas ordered that the trial should not to be affected due to the absence of any accused and asked the counsels of Asaram to continue their arguments in his absence.
"The order is also in compliance of the High Court's order directing the trial to be expedited and the judgement to be pronounced fast," Meena said. Meanwhile, the defence has once again raised objection on the victim girl being minor.
Counsel of Asaram on Thursday moved a fresh application stating that the girl was an adult and hence challenged the invocation of charges under Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act (POCSO) Act against Asaram.
This is for the fifth time that the age of the girl has been challenged in the court despite the plea being earlier rejected by the High Court. Asaram is lodged in the Jodhpur Central Jail since September 2 last year after he was booked for the sexual assault on the teenage girl.