Charges were framed against the director of NGO Theatre Age Zulfiqar Khan by a local court on Monday.
Zulfiqar, who is behind bars since July, will now face trial under Sections 377 (unnatural sex), 506 (punishment for criminal intimidation), 293 (sale, etc., of obscene objects to young person) of the IPC and Sections 5, 6 and 14 of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, 2012. The trial will begin on November 18.
Disagreeing to the contention of the defence counsel, who appealed to discharge the accused since one of the victims had moved an application to delete his name from the list of witnesses, alleging therein that the allegations against the accused were false and his statement under Section 161 CrPC was wrongly recorded, the court observed that Khan could not be discharged on the said ground.
“The remaining four victims are supporting the case of prosecution. One of the victims not supporting the case is no ground to discharge the accused. Hence, the accused is liable to be chargesheeted,” stated the court.
The court added that the statement recorded by the witness under Section 161 CrPC was subject to judicial scrutiny.
“He has to appear in the court as a witness and if he denies the fact, the prosecution is required to be given an opportunity to cross examine him to extract the truth. The application moved by victim through his mother to delete his name from the list of witnesses and another application moved by the accused to discharge him are dismissed,” added the court.
Public prosecutor JP Singh argued that accused if discharged might harm the victims. “Victims have already submitted complaints to the police, expressing threat from the close aide of the accused. Khan has manipulated this application using foul tactics. The accused is threatening victims to withdraw the case against him,” he told the court.
Witnesses say their lives under threat
Four out of five witnesses in a complaint addressed to the inspector general of police and submitted on Wednesday at the UT police window had expressed threat to life from Khan’s close aide. The victims had alleged that they were being pressurised to withdraw the complaint against Khan or else they would be killed.
Zulfiqar, director of Theatre Age, was arrested on July 11 for allegedly having unnatural sex with his students on the basis of the complaint of Kanwarpal, his former student-cum-associate.
The police had on September 8 filed the challan under Sections 377, 292, 506 of the IPC and respective sections of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act.
The police had submitted the 360-page challan carrying victims’ statements and spelling out the torturous tales of their sexual exploitation. The challan lists 34 witnesses, including police officials, doctors, five complainants and a magistrate.