Friday, December 1, 2023

Punjab and Haryana High Court grants interim relief to Deepak Chaurasia in POCSO case, imposes Rs 2 lakh cost for wasting court time

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The Punjab and Haryana High Court has granted interim relief to Zee News Anchor Deepak Chaurasia in a POCSO case, while imposing cost of Rs two lakh on him for wasting the valuable time and energy of courts as well as the prosecution.

The Single-Judge Bench of Justice Jagmohan Bansal directed Chaurasia to appear before the trial court on March 3 and furnish fresh bail bonds.

The High Court took note of the fact that Chaurasia was working on a senior position with a national news channel. Neither the prosecution, nor the complainant, have apprehended the petitioner trying to flee from justice, it added.

It said the Right of personal liberty granted by Article 21 was one of the most pious and important fundamental rights guaranteed by the Constitution.

The Bench noted that arrest not only deprived the right of personal liberty, but also caused mental agony, stress and tarnished the reputation of an entire family.

The news anchor had filed a petition in the High Court against the of the February 4 order of the Gurugram POCSO Court, which had declined his application seeking permanent exemption from personal appearance and issuing an arrest warrant against him.

The High Couet directed Chaurasia to deposit Rs two lakh with the PGI, Poor Patient Welfare Fund in Chandigarh.

On February 4, Additional Sessions Judge of Gurugram Shashi Chauhan had issued a Non-Bailable Warrant against Chaurasia after he failed to appear before the court purportedly due to a pre-scheduled interview with Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath on the day of hearing.

The ASJ noted that the application moved by Chaurasia, seeking personal exemption from appearance, was not supported by any affidavit or accompanying cogent documentary proof explaining his absence.

The Gurugram Court further cancelled the bail bond and the surety bond of Chaurasia, and the same was forfeited to the State.

A warrant of arrest, along with a notice to his surety under Section 446 CrPC, were issued against Chaurasia on March 3, 2023.

This was the second time that such an arrest warrant has been issued against him.

Earlier, on October 28, 2022, the Gurugram Court had issued a similar order after Chaurasiya moved an application seeking exemption from his personal appearance on grounds of serious health condition.

The Court issued an arrest warrant against him on the grounds that his application was not supported by relevant medical reports.

Chaurasia is among the eight people who were chargesheeted for airing obscene and edited 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.

(Case title: Deepak Chaurasia vs State of Haryana)

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