A POCSO court in Gurugram has again issued a non-bailable arrest warrant against Zee News anchor Deepak Chaurasia after he failed to appear before it because he was "required to interview Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath” on the day of the hearing on February 4.
This is the second time in more than three months that the court has issued such a warrant. The first NBW was issued on October 28 last year after the journalist, who has recently joined Zee News as a consulting editor, skipped hearing citing health grounds. He was granted bail after he moved the Punjab and Haryana High Court.
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. Arguments on charges are being heard.
Newslaundry had earlier reported on the details of the.
During the hearing last week, Additional Sessions Judge Shashi Chauhan said there was no affidavit to support Chaurasia’s application about his absence. “Moreover, the copy of the communication which is placed on record reveals that the same is nowhere addressed to the applicant/accused Deepak Chaurasia,” the courts observed, mentioning an email about the interview.
The mail was CC'ed to Chaurasia, according to the order.
This was the third such application moved by Chaurasia. “Earlier (such application) was moved on 23.09.2022 and 28.10.2022. Hence, keeping in view the peculiar circumstance of the case that present case has already become very old and registered under the POCSO Act and the application for personal exemption moved by the applicant/accused is not supported by any affidavit and no cogent documentary proof regarding his absence has been filed therefore, no ground is made out to allow the application and same stands dismissed,” the court stated while issuing a non-bailable warrant.
The video, which aired on News24 and India News in December 2013, “partially revealed” the faces of the child, the complainant’s wife, and a few other women. A zero FIR in the case was lodged at a Gurugram police station on December 15, 2013.
Update at 9.13 pm, Feb 7: Additional Sessions Judge Shashi Chauhan was incorrectly named as Shashi Bhushan. This has been corrected.