The Rajasthan High Court on Saturday suspended the prison sentence of a co-accused in the rape case involving religious leader Asaram, reported PTI. The court granted the relief on the ground that the prosecution had failed to establish any direct connection between accused Sanchita Gupta and the Asaram.

Gupta had been accused of sending a 16-year-old girl, who was raped by the 77-year-old Asaram, and her parents to his ashram in Jodhpur. A trial court had sentenced her to 20 years in jail. In April, a Jodhpur court convicted Asaram and sentenced him to life imprisonment for the 2013 sexual assault.

Justice Vijay Bishnoi suspended Gupta’s sentence on a personal bond of Rs 2 lakh and two surety bonds of Rs 1 lakh each, said her lawyer Mahesh Bora. “She had challenged her sentence in the high court,” he said. “The arguments on the appeal had completed on Wednesday and the court had reserved the order.”

The Rajasthan High Court observed that neither the girl nor her parents had been in touch with Gupta after the girl left the “gurukul” where she studied, said Bora.

The sentence will remain suspended until the final disposal of Gupta’s appeal pending in the high court, said the lawyer. “She will have to appear in the trial court once in a year, in January, until the disposal of the appeal,” he said.

In July, Asaram also moved the Rajasthan High Court against his conviction, but it has not yet taken it up. His appeal said the trial court had ignored several facts in its verdict, and called it a “clear and disturbing illustration of trial by media”. Earlier this month, Asaram sent a mercy plea to Rajasthan Governor Kalyan Singh, seeking a reduction of his term of imprisonment. In his petition, Asaram cited old age and sought relief from the “gruelling punishment”.