Chandigarh: A special CBI court in Panchkula on Thursday awarded life imprisonment to Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh in the murder of journalist Ramchander Chhatrapati
Three other convicts -- Kuldeep Singh, Nirmal Singh and Krishan Lal – were also awarded life imprisonment. The court has also imposed a fine of Rs 50,000 each.
The sentence was delivered through video conferencing.
Security was beefed up in Haryana ahead of the pronouncement of quantum of sentence for Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh and three others convicted in the murder of Ramchander Chhatrapati.
The court had Wednesday accepted the Haryana government's plea seeking appearance of the Dera Sacha Sauda sect head through video conference during the pronouncement of quantum of sentence in the journalist murder case. The state government had said the movement of the Dera chief could lead to a law and order situation.
The 51-year-old Sirsa-based sect head is currently serving a 20-year-prison term in Rohtak's Sunaria jail for raping two of his women followers. The three other convicts -- Kuldeep Singh, Nirmal Singh and Krishan Lal -- are lodged in Ambala jail.
On January 11, Special CBI Court judge Jagdeep Singh had convicted Ram Rahim and three others in the 2002 journalist murder case.
Ram Rahim and the three others had appeared through video conference when the court convicted them.
All the four were convicted under section 302 (murder) and 120 B (criminal conspiracy) of the Indian Penal Code. Nirmal Singh and Krishan Lal were also convicted under the Arms Act. The minimum punishment under section 302 is life imprisonment and the maximum is death sentence.
The family of the slain journalist had demanded capital punishment for the guilty.
The journalist was shot dead outside his house in October 2002 in Haryana's Sirsa after his newspaper published a letter alleging sexual exploitation of women by Ram Rahim.
Ram Rahim was named as the main conspirator in the case.
Chhatrapati's family had approached the Punjab and Haryana High Court in 2003, seeking transfer of the case to the Central Bureau of Investigation. The investigation was later handed over to the CBI which filed the charge sheet in July 2007.