The Supreme Court on Wednesday set aside a Gujarat High Court order granting a two-week furlough to religious leader Asaram’s son Narayan Sai, who has been sentenced to life imprisonment in a rape case, Live Law reported.
A furlough is granted in case of long-term imprisonment to prisoners for at least 14 days a year so they can maintain family and societal ties. It is considered the right of every prisoner.
However, in Sai’s case, a bench led by Justice DY Chandrachud said that the right to furlough is not absolute.
Sai is in Lajpore jail near Gujarat’s Surat city, The Times of India reported. The court said that the superintendent of the jail had given negative feedback about his behaviour.
Sai kept a cell phone in jail illegally and tried to contact people outside, the court noted, according to Live Law. The bench also took note of instances where the team investigating the case against Sai and witnesses were threatened, allegedly on his orders.
“They [Sai and his father] have a mass following of persons who have loyalty to them,” the Supreme Court said. “In view of these circumstances, we allow the appeals and set aside the interim judgment and order of the High Court.”
Two sisters from Surat had in 2013 filed separate complaints against Asaram and Narayan Sai, accusing them of rape and illegal confinement. Asaram was also convicted in another rape case in 2018 in Jodhpur in Rajasthan, where he is currently serving a life term.
Sai was sentenced to life imprisonment by a local court in Surat in 2019.
In June this year, a single-judge bench of the Gujarat High Court had ordered that Sai be released on furlough for two weeks. The Gujarat government had opposed Sai’s release, arguing that furlough depended on several factors and was not an absolute right.
The Supreme Court had stayed the High Court order on August 12, PTI reported.
Sai had been granted furlough by the High Court in 2020 also to meet his unwell mother.