Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar said on Saturday that he will not interfere with the 40-day parole granted to Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh, ANI reported.

In 2017, he was sentenced to 20 years imprisonment for raping two of his women disciples at the Dera headquarters in the Sirsa district. In 2021, a Central Bureau of Investigation court had also sentenced Singh and four others to life imprisonment in the murder case of Ranjit Singh, a former manager of his sect.

Singh walked out of the Sunaria prison in Rohtak district on Saturday afternoon on the parole he was granted on Friday, The Tribune reported. This is the fourth time since last year that the Dera chief has been allowed to be out on parole. His last parole had ended on November 25, according to PTI.

In June, the sect leader was released on month-long parole ahead of the Sangrur bye-election in Punjab. In February, he was granted a 21-day furlough ahead of the Punjab Assembly elections.

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.

On Saturday, Chief Minister Khattar told reporters Singh must have been granted parole according to the procedure, and it was his right to be given the relief, ANI reported.

Haryana Jail Minister Ranjit Singh Chautala also defended the decision, saying it was the Dera chief’s fundamental right to be released from jail on a temporary basis.

“After three-five years [of jail term], a prisoner can apply for parole and it is not in our hands, competent authority decides on the bail,” Chautala said, according to ANI.