A few days after the conviction of Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh in a rape case, the SC questioned the Gujarat government over the slow pace of trial in a similar case involving Asaram Bapu.
This comes even after the apex court in April urged expedited examination of witnesses.
The SC has sought a response and posted the matter for hearing after Diwali.
Asaram Bapu started by working as a tea-seller
Asaram Bapu is a Hindu religious leader from Gujarat. He was born in Berani village in Pakistan.
The family moved to Gujarat after partition. In his early years, he worked as a tea seller.
Asaram Bapu reportedly has two crore followers. The 'Sant Asaram Bapu' runs nearly 400 ashrams within India and outside.
Until his arrest in 2013, he enjoyed VVIP status at airports.
The sexual assault cases against the self-styled godman
In 2013, a 16-year-old accused Asaram of raping her saying he would cure her illness. Medical examination confirmed sexual assault.
Later, at least seven other girls accused him of forcing them for unnatural sex in the "form of oral sex".
Two Surat-based sisters made similar allegations against his son Narayan Sai.
Police confirmed several witnesses supported the rape case, but Asaram denied the allegations.
And then several witnesses were attacked
Over the course of 2014 and 2015, nine witnesses associated with Asaram Bapu's rape and sexual assault cases were attacked.
At least one had acid thrown on his face, another was stabbed, and yet another was shot to death.
Three of these witnesses have died; other key witnesses were subsequently provided security.
Asaram's petitions for bail have been consistently denied.
Self-styled religious leaders and their web of crimes
This shows how 'godmen' frequently use the devotion of followers to cover their misdeeds; the case of Ram Rahim brought to the fore the same issue. Devotees should stop blindly worshipping such 'spiritual leaders' and hold them answerable for their deeds like other people.