OUT OF the five separate ongoing cases against Zulfiqar Khan, director of NGO Theatre Age, he was convicted in three cases for sodomising children by the Chandigarh District Courts on Thursday. The quantum of sentence will be pronounced on December 23.
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However, the court of Additional District and Sessions Judge J S Sidhu acquitted Khan of all charges in the remaining two cases wherein minor witnesses had turned hostile.
Pronouncing the orders on Thursday, the court convicted Khan under sections 377 (unnatural sex) and 292 (sale of obscene objects to young persons) of the Indian Penal Code. The case received a major setback when the lone minor witness turned hostile in February this year. The defence counsel, subsequently, had moved an application requesting for five separate trials on the basis of five separate complaints. The statements of victims in the five cases were examined by the court, out of which two alleged victims had turned hostile.
In a bid to provide cogent evidence citing conspiracy to frame Khan in a false case, the defence counsel had also placed on record “a sting operation” as evidence wherein the complainant, Kanwarpal, and his counsel were demanding bribe from the nephew of the accused to settle a case.
Khan was facing trial under sections 292 (sale and exhibiting obscene materials), 377 (unnatural sex), 506 (criminal intimidation) of the IPC and sections 5 and 14 of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012.
The case was registered on the basis of five complaints. One of the complainants, Kanwarpal, had first taken the matter to the Chandigarh Commission for the Protection of Child Rights and later the complaint reached the police.
According to the prosecution, Khan allegedly forced the children to watch pornographic videos at his Sector 25 school and thereafter committed unnatural sex with them. He allegedly even brought the children to the Sector 25 school at night on the pretext of holding theatre classes. During investigation, the police had seized sedatives and CDs of several porn movies from his Sector 25 school.