Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh was released on a month-long parole from Rohtak’s Sunaria jail in Haryana on Friday morning, PTI reported.
Singh and four others are serving life imprisonment for the murder of a former manager of the sect. He was sentenced by a special Central Bureau of Investigation court in Haryana’s Panchkula town in October. The Dera Sacha Sauda chief is also serving a 20-year term in prison for raping two of his followers.
Haryana Jails Minister Ranjit Chautala said that the 30-day parole was granted to Singh based on the recommendation of some officials, PTI reported.
In his plea, Singh had said he wanted to go to the Dera Sacha Sauda ashram in Uttar Pradesh’s Baghpat district, said Chautala.
“A go-ahead from the administration in Baghpat was taken before clearance was given for the parole,” he added.
An unidentified Rohtak police official told PTI that the Dera Sacha Sauda chief walked out of the prison on Friday morning.
In February, Singh was granted a 21-day furlough ahead of the Punjab Assembly elections.
While a prisoner is granted parole based on an urgent demand or need, a furlough can be given without any reason after serving a stipulated amount of time in prison, Live Law reported.
A petition was filed in the Punjab and Haryana High Court against the furlough granted to Singh, contending that his release would affect Punjab’s peace.
According to media reports, Singh enjoys a significant influence in several Assembly seats in Punjab.
But the High Court had said that Singh does not belong to the “hardcore prisoner category” and upheld the decision to grant the furlough.
The Dera Sacha Sauda leader has received paroles on earlier occasions too, but they have been short-term ones – from sunrise to sunset – to meet his ailing mother.