Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh and four others were on Friday convicted in the murder case of Ranjit Singh, the former manager of the sect, reported The Times of India.
A special Central Bureau of Investigation court in Haryana’s Panchkula convicted them under sections 302 (punishment for murder) and 120B (punishment for criminal conspiracy) of the Indian Penal Code.
The quantum of sentence will be announced on October 12.
The other accused in the case are Dera Sacha Sauda manager Krishan Lal, shooters Jasbir Singh and Sabdil Singh and a man identified as Avtar Singh. Another accused man, Inder Sain, died in October last year.
Gurmeet Singh, who has been in prison since 2017, is serving a 20-year term in Rohtak’s Sunaria jail for raping two of his followers in 2002.
Ranjit Singh was shot dead in Khanpur Kolian village in Kurukshetra district on July 10, 2002.
Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh had suspected the former manager to be behind an anonymous letter alleging that women followers were sexually exploited in the sect, according to a CBI chargesheet. The Dera chief had then formed a conspiracy to kill Ranjit Singh, the chargesheet added.
Panchkula special CBI judge Sushil Kumar Garg was going to pronounce the verdict in the case on August 26 but the Punjab and Haryana High Court restrained him from doing so after a transfer petition was filed, reported Live Law.
The petition was filed by Jagseer Singh, the son of deceased Ranjeet Singh, to transfer the case to another CBI court in Punjab, Haryana or the Union Territory of Chandigarh.
Ranjeet Singh’s son had alleged that CBI pubic prosecutor KP Singh was not a part of the case but took undue interest in it and had influence on Garg.
The High Court had dismissed the plea on Tuesday, stating that the petitioner’s apprehensions were not reasonable and based on conjunctures.
Meanwhile, a petition against the alleged castration of the Dera followers is also pending in Sisra. The plea had alleged that 400 Dera followers, including the petitioner, were castrated in the sect. He had alleged that Gurmeet Ram Rahim had told them that castration would help them realise god through him.
The Punjab and Haryana High Court had ordered a CBI investigation in the case in December 2014.
The CBI filed the chargesheet in the case three years after the court’s order and alleged that Gurmeet Ram Rahim made the followers, who were castrated, sign a document that authorised the Dera chief’s protege to buy properties in the name of the victims.