Senior counsel Vikas Singh, in a mention before an apex court bench of Chief Justice P Sathasivam and Justice Ranjan Gogoi, said there was no objection to media correctly reporting the court proceedings but it should be restrained from carrying speculative reports portraying his ashrams as some kind of brothels.
Vikas Singh said this while referring to the report of a Hindi newspaper whose heading said "Sex, rape, paedophile, brothel house: Godman or conman?" The senior counsel was assisted by advocate Ravi Prakash.
The court was told that Asaram Bapu had the right to "free and fair" trial under Article 21 of the Constitution and there was a presumption of innocence till he was held guilty.
The petition said the way Asaram Bapu was being "demonised" by media, it severely prejudiced his right to fair trial and violated his fundamental right under Article 21 of the Constitution.
The petition said that the "trial conducted by media both in print media as well as electronic media has already adjudged petitioner (Asaram Bapu) as convicted", whereas the allegations made against him are under investigation by police and the trial has not yet commenced.
"Trial by media completely negates the fundamental right of an accused" and more so as in "this case since no medical corroboration is required and conviction in such cases can only be possible on the basis of circumstantial evidence", the petition said.
Describing himself as a "devout saint and who has dedicated his entire life towards religious, spiritual and humanitarian pursuits", Asaram Bapu said he has about "400 ashrams spread across the length and breadth of the country".
About 40 of these ashrams run schools known as 'Gurukul' for both boys and girls. There are around 10,000 students enrolled in such schools.
He said that the speculative media reports were adversely affecting his ashrams and Gurukuls where children were studying.
The court would next hear the matter Oct 21.
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