The Punjab and Haryana High Court on Tuesday acquitted Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh in the case of his former sect manager Ranjit Singh’s murder in 2002, reported Bar and Bench.

Ram Rahim Singh had been sentenced to 20 years imprisonment in 2017 for raping two of his women disciples at the Dera Sacha Sauda headquarters in Haryana’s Sirsa district.

In 2021, he and four others – Avtar Singh, Jasbir Singh, Sabdil Singh and Krishan Lal – were convicted by a special court and sentenced to life imprisonment for Ranjit Singh’s murder.

In its chargesheet, the Central Bureau of Investigation alleged that Ranjit Singh had been shot on July 10, 2002, because Ram Rahim Singh had suspected him of circulating an anonymous letter detailing instances in which the Dera Sacha Sauda chief had sexually exploited his women disciples, Live Law reported.

The special Central Bureau of Investigation court at Haryana’s Panchkula in 2021 said that it had been proven beyond reasonable doubt that Ram Rahim Singh was aggrieved by the circulation of the letter and had conspired with the other men to murder Ranjit Singh.

On Tuesday, a division bench of Justices Sureshwar Thakur and Lalit Batra acquitted all five men on an appeal moved by them. However, Ram Rahim Singh will continue to remain in jail in connection with two other cases against him, one of rape and another in which has been convicted for murdering a journalist.

In February, the Punjab and Haryana High Court told the Haryana government that the Dera Sacha Sauda chief can no longer be granted parole without the court’s permission. A prisoner is granted parole based on an urgent demand or need.

Singh had been granted a 50-day parole in January, his ninth parole in the last four years.