Irked over his absence, a special POCSO court in Gurugram has now issued directions that anchor Deepak Chaurasia should be arrested under a non-bailable warrant on or before November 21 – the next date of hearing. The court has also issued similar directions for Lalit Singh Badgurjar, a reporter.
The case pertains to an FIR based on a complaint filed by a child’s relative on December 15, 2013. It accused three news channels – News24, India News and News Nation – of airing “morphed” videos. Former News24 managing editor Ajit Anjum, Aaj Tak anchor Chitra Tripathi, and former News Nation anchor Deepak Chaurasia are among eight people chargesheeted in 2020 and 2021 for airing “edited”, “obscene” videos of a 10-year-old child and her family, and linking the video to the sexual assault case against self-styled godman Asaram Bapu.
Newslaundry had earlier on the details of the case.
The court noted that while Chaurasia sought personal exemption citing his health condition, his application was neither supported by a medical certificate nor any affidavit. The court said that it appears that the accused is “intentionally avoiding his presence before the court”, noting that this was the second application seeking exemption.
“The bail of the applicant-accused is cancelled. His bail bond and surety bond are cancelled…Warrant of arrest against accused Deepak Chaurasia be issued for November 21…notice to his surety under section 446 of the CrPC and his identifier be also issued for the date fixed.”
Asked if Chaurasia had been arrested, Gurugram police commissioner Kala Ramachandran said they received the order on Tuesday.
Chaurasia refused to comment. Repeated calls to his lawyers did not elicit any response.
In an order on October 28, Additional Sessions Judge Shashi Bhushan also issued a bailable warrant against three investigating officers – ACP Surender, inspector Jitender and inspector Sanjay.
Dharmendra Mishra, the lawyer representing the minor, said the court “has found some deficiencies in the supplementary chargesheet” and shortcomings in the electronic and documentary evidence too.
Earlier on September 23, the court barred Chitra Tripathi from leaving the country without its approval and till the case is pending trial. This came after she left for London without the court’s permission.
The video, which aired on News24 and India News in December 2013, “partially revealed” the faces of the child, the complainant’s wife, and some other women. The zero FIR in the case was lodged at a Gurugram police station on December 15, 2013.
Of the eight people listed in the chargesheet, three – Anjum, anchor Syed Suhail and Jodhpur reporter Sunil Dutt – worked with News24 when the videos were broadcast. Anjum has since left News24 while Suhail is now an anchor on Republic Bharat.
The other five had been with India News: editor-in-chief Chaurasia, anchors Tripathi and Rashid Hashmi, Jodhpur reporter Lalit Singh Badgurjar, and producer Abhinav Raj. Chaurasia later joined News Nation as consulting editor though he vanished from TV screens after his . Hashmi is now executive editor with India News and Badgurjar was, until recently, with News18.