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Fresh non-bailable warrant issued against controversial 'godman' Rampal

High Court issues fresh non-bailable warrant for November 21 against controversial self-styled 'godman' Rampal after he failed to appear in a contempt case

Chandigarh: The Punjab and Haryana High Court today issued a fresh non-bailable warrant (NBW) for November 21 against controversial self-styled 'godman' Rampal after he failed to appear in a contempt case, with his counsel saying he was "unwell".

Hours after 63-year-old Rampal failed to appear before the court and sought more time, his supporters claimed that he has been taken from his ashram in Barwala in Hisar district to an undisclosed destination for "treatment".

In the High Court, a two-judge bench, while issuing the NBW, also directed the governments of Haryana and Punjab, the Union Government and the Chandigarh Administration to file a statement detailing the expenses incurred in making security arrangements for Rampal's court appearance.

The bench comprising justices M Jeyapaul and Darshan Singh had earlier in the morning reserved its verdict after hearing the state government, amicus curiae and the defence counsel.

The court directed the Director General of Police and Home Secretary of Haryana to remain present in the court at the next hearing on November 21.

The court directed the two state governments, the Union Government and the Chandigarh Administration to file the statement of expenses on security arrangements at the next hearing on Friday.

Shortly after the HC had reserved its verdict in the morning, a spokesman of Satlok Ashram, Raj Kapoor, claimed that Rampal was whisked away by them from his ashram at Barwala to an undisclosed destination for "treatment".

Rampal has cited health reason and failed to appear in the High Court on three dates - November 5, November 10 and latest being today.

The District Administration in Hisar has, meanwhile, asked Rampal's followers, who have been sitting in and around the ashram, to disperse from the area.

Hisar District Magistrate M L Kaushik has issued an order asking all the followers, including women and children, to disperse immediately, an official spokesman said in Hisar.

The spokesman said the administration would press into service buses to transport the followers to the bus stand and the railway station for their onward journeys.

The followers have also been asked not to act as a hurdle in the judicial process against Rampal.

Earlier in the High Court, the Haryana government told the bench that it was taking steps to comply with the court order but it has to take every step carefully as a number of women and children were present in the Satlok Ashram.

The High Court had on Monday last pulled up the Haryana government for failing to produce Rampal, against whom a NBW was issued recently in a contempt case. It had set a deadline of today for his production.

Rampal's counsel S K Garg told the bench that Rampal was "unwell" and not in a position to travel from Barwala to here.

"He is unwell... We are not avoiding court appearance. He has been appearing on past occasions. Give us some time,once he feels better, he will appear," the counsel told the bench.

On behalf of the state government, Home Secretary and the DGP appeared before the court. Advocate General Baldev Raj Mahajan told the court that the state was taking steps to comply with the court order.

He pleaded that since a number of women and children were present at the ashram where Rampal was present, the police and administration had to take every step carefully.

With regard to the issue of cancellation of Rampal's bail in the 2006 murder case, the bench posted the matter for tomorrow asking the defence counsel to file their reply by then.

Senior advocate Anupam Gupta, who is amicus curiae in the case, told reporters outside the court that on behalf of the Haryana government, the AG filed an affidavit, submitting that any immediate attempt to arrest Rampal would result in casualties and therefore, the government and the police are trying to devise ways and means to implement court's order.

Gupta said that he, however, submitted that "not implementing the orders of the court would result in complete disorder, lawlessness and anarchy."

On the affidavit filed by Haryana DGP S N Vashisht before the court, Gupta said he told the court that the affidavit "withholds a vital and seminal fact, which has been suppressed from the High Court.."

Alleging that the entire police force and security deployed around Rampal's ashram was withdrawn suddenly last evening, he said the failure to present Rampal before the court was a "complete abdication of authority by the State."

Gupta said that if the government does not produce Rampal before the High Court in three days, contempt of court notices should be issued by Friday to Chief Minister M L Khattar, who holds the charge of the Home Ministry.

"As per my information, after heavy deployment of police forces yesterday in and around the ashram in Barwala, the entire police force and security bandobast was suddenly withdrawn last evening," Gupta alleged.

"There was no police force in and around the ashram throughout last night and early morning today. I stated that this has been suppressed by the state government and DGP, Haryana," he said.

He also submitted that not being able to secure Rampal was "a complete abdication of authority by the State. Why did they not move in late evening and at night and why they withdrew forces last night?"

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