Paving the way for a trial, a special Gurugram court has framed charges against eight media professionals, including anchors Deepak Chaurasia, Chitra Tripathi, Ajit Anjum, Md Sohail and Rashid Hashmi, in connection with a 2013 case filed under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act.
The charges they face are sections 120B (criminal conspiracy), 469 and 471 (which relate to forgery) of the Indian Penal Code; sections 67B (abusing children online) and 67 (publishing or transmitting sexually explicit content) of the Information Technology Act; and sections 23 (disclosure of identity of a child by the media) and 13C (indecent or obscene representation of a child) of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act.
“The charges were read over to the accused to which they pleaded not guilty and claimed trial,” read the order passed by Additional Sessions Judge Shashi Chauhan. The order was made available on Monday but was dated August 25.
An FIR was filed after a complaint by a child’s relative on December 15, 2013. It accused three news channels – News24, India News and News Nation – of airing “morphed” videos. An “edited”, “obscene” video of the 10-year-old child and her family was aired while linking it to the sexual assault case against self-styled godman Asaram Bapu. The charge sheet was filed in 2020 and 2021.
Read all about the case .
Listing the charge under section 23 of the POCSO Act, the judge said the accused “have shown the victim in a vulgar and indecent manner by tampering and distorting the video”.
Of the eight accused, three – Anjum, anchor Md Sohail and Jodhpur reporter Sunil Dutt – worked with News24 when the video was broadcast. Anjum has since left News24 while Sohail alias Syed Suhail is now an anchor with 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 is now a consulting editor and anchor with Zee News while Tripathi is with Aaj Tak. Hashmi is executive editor at India News.
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