Rajasthan High Court: The Division Bench of Sandeep Mehta and Devendra Kachhawaha, JJ., dismissed an application which was filed for temporary suspension of sentences on behalf of the infamous convict appellant Asharam, aged about 83 years.

The applicant-appellant was also facing trial in another case at Gujarat involving the offence under Section 376, Penal Code 1860 and was in custody in connection with the said case as well. He got infected by COVID-19 Virus while suffering Life Imprisonment at the Central Jail, Jodhpur and as a measure to provide treatment, he was shifted to the M.D.M. Hospital, Jodhpur. Since the health status of the convict appellant was not improving at the M.D.M. Hospital, he was shifted to the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), Jodhpur where he was provided complete treatment for COVID-19 infection as per protocol. In the intervening period, the appellant developed internal gastrointestinal bleeding as a result whereof, his haemoglobin dropped to critically low level and accordingly, he was provided treatment for the said disorder including blood transfusion, etc. Later on, as per the conclusion of the treating doctors at the AIIMS, Jodhpur, the condition of the applicant-appellant was stable and he was fit for discharge.

Counsel for the petitioner, Mr J.S. Choudhary, Sr. Advocate with Mr Pradeep Choudhary submitted that convict had expressed his desire in writing that he does not desire to take the allopathic line of treatment and instead, his followers may be allowed to set up a fully functional medical facility at his Ashram at Pal Village, Jodhpur so that he can be treated by Ayurveda and for the reason which if the sentences awarded to the appellant are suspended, he and his followers are ready and willing to abide by any condition which may be imposed by the Court.

The Court observed that there was no certificate/ opinion of the doctors that the ailments with which, the convict appellant was afflicted, can be treated by Ayurveda. The Court further observed that suspending the sentences awarded to the appellant in this case would be nothing short of an exercise in futility because immediately on his release from the Central Jail, Jodhpur, he would be required to be taken to State of Gujarat in connection with the case pending trial as a production warrant certainly would be in force.

The Court dismissed the application and held that the prayer is not tenable as the Court was cognizant of the fact that whenever the convict has been taken out from prison even for attending the dates of hearing during trial, his followers form huge congregations which create law and order situations and presently, the risk of spread of COVID infections would become imminent. The Court directed the district and jail administration to ensure that proper treatment was provided to the convict appellant at the suitable medical institution in light of the observations made in the medical reports/ certificates issued from the AIIMS, Jodhpur.

[Asharam v. State of Rajasthan, 2021 SCC OnLine Raj 451, decided on 21-05-2021]

Suchita Shukla, Editorial Assistant has put this report together 

For the petitioner: Mr J.S. Choudhary, Sr. Advocate with Mr Pradeep Choudhary

For the respondent: Mr Anil Joshi

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