THE FOUNDER of Shifu Sunkriti, an alleged cult group, will continue to face the obscenity charge after a court rejected his plea seeking to drop the charge.
In 2017, Sunil Kulkarni was arrested by the Mumbai Police following a petition in the Bombay High Court filed by the parents of two women, aged 23 and 21, stating that he was running a “cult group, and that he had hypnotised and enticed the women”.
The women, in their statements that is a part of the chargesheet, had denied this claim and had made counter-allegations against their parents. Based on other evidence, however, police said Kulkarni could continue to face charges, including cheating, forgery and obscenity, for his posts on Facebook, which allegedly had “sexual undertones”.
Kulkarni, who continues to be behind bars, had sought to drop the charge under Section 292 of the Indian Penal Code, which relates to obscenity and draws a maximum punishment of two years if it is a first offence and five if it is a second offence.
He had said witnesses, including the two women, had denied the allegations made by their parents, and that he should not be charged for obscenity. The prosecution objected to the plea stating that it is a matter of trial.
“It is better to mention here that the concept of obscenity depends on standards of moral of contemporary societies. In judging the question of obscenity, the court in the first place would try to place himself in the position of the author and from his point of view should try to understand what the author seeks to convey and whether the work has any literary or artistic value,” the court said on the charge.
It further said, “In such circumstances, unless the witnesses of prosecution enter into the witness box and face cross-examination, it cannot be said the provisions of section 292 of the Indian Penal Code are not applicable in the case in hand.”
In the complaint filed by the parents of the women, it was stated that their elder daughter had spoken about Shifu Sunkriti in June 2016, and that they had begun noticing changes in the behaviour of both their daughters subsequently.
Their plea before the High Court in 2017 had sought a probe into the alleged cult. The two women, however, denied the allegations that Kulkarni was running a cult.
The court has now adjourned the case for framing of charges against Kulkarni.