Chandigarh stalking case: Vikas Barala, friend cry ‘biased probe, media trial’, court to frame charges

Defence counsel argues that charges of kidnapping should be dropped; the accused repeatedly tried to follow and stalked the victim, thereby showing that their intent was more than just stalking, say Varnika Kundu’s lawyer.

punjab Updated: Oct 12, 2017 15:26 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, Chandigarh
Chandigarh stalking case,Vikas Barala,biased probe
Complainant Varnika Kundu and her father VS Kundu. (Sikander Singh/HT)

Counsel of Vikas Barala and Ashish Kumar, on Wednesday argued that only stalking charges should be framed against the duo and that those pertaining to kidnapping be dropped by the court.

The day’s proceedings were heated as the defence and prosecution presented their arguments for framing of charges against Vikas, son of Haryana BJP chief Subhash Barala, and his friend Ashish. They have been booked for stalking and kidnapping Varnika Kundu, a Chandigarh-based disc jockey.

The accused were produced before the court of judicial magistrate first class, Barjinder Pal Singh, on Wednesday. Varnika was accompanied by her father VS Kundu, a Haryana-cadre IAS officer.

Defence counsel Rabindra Pandit argued that as per the allegations made in Varnika’s complainant and the statements mentioned in the challan, the case should be registered under Section 354D (stalking) of the Indian Penal Code only. He added that sections of kidnapping should not be applied in the case.

Accused Vikas Barala and Ashish Kumar at the district courts in Sector 43 to attend the proceedings, in Chandigarh on Wednesday. (Sikander Singh/HT )

Pandit claimed that Vikas and Ashish have been “framed” owing to a media trial, coupled with the “mounting pressure” on the police. He added that the accused are also “victims of biased investigation and media trial”.

Recounting the sequence of events in the case, as stated in the first information report, he said the police have refused to provide CCTV footage of the police station pertaining to the date of the alleged crime, and that they have also refused to provide call details of the conversations between Varnika and her father, despite repeated requests. “There are things that need to come out in the open. I cannot disclose them at this point. Hence, it is important that if these are not being provided to me, at least they should be provided to the court,” the defence counsel said.

He argued that facts in the case “don’t show it was a kidnapping bid”, and that this is merely a “notion perceived by the complainant—an imagination of sorts” on her part.Referring to past high court judgements, Pandit said the prosecution should not become the victim’s mouthpiece.

However, Varnika’s lawyer Pankaj Bhardwaj countered this and maintained that the nature of this case is different from that of the ones in the judgements referred. To this, Pandit responded that the case is about “wrongful restraint and not wrongful confinement”.

Meanwhile, the prosecution, represented by district attorney Manu Kakkar and Varnika’s lawyer Pankaj Bhardwaj, maintained their earlier stand on how the accused “repeatedly tried to follow and stalked the victim”, thereby showing that their intent was more than just stalking.

The added that the time of the incident, the location, “continuous” attempt to follow victim’s car, the distance travelled and the fact that accused were under the influence of liquor, suggest that their intention was more than stalking. The prosecution also maintained that the question as to who pressurised whom, whether it is the IAS lobby (as alleged by the defence) or the Vikas’ father, is a double-edged sword, and should not affect the framing of charges at this stage. The court will pronounce its order on framing of charges on Friday.

First Published: Oct 12, 2017 15:22 IST