Odisha Sun Times Bureau
New Delhi/Bhubaneswar, Mar 25:
A New Delhi court today remanded Odisha based builder Subrat Sahu alias Kalia, who was arrested by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) in Bhubaneswar on Monday in connection with rape videos that were posted on phone messaging service WhatsApp, to a day’s police custody.
Rejecting the CBI plea for 10 days’ remand, Metropolitan Magistrate Sujit Saurabh said a one-day remand would suffice for the time being.
“In view of the facts and circumstances of the case, one day police custody would suffice for investigation and if required further extension can be sought,” the magistrate said.
Counsel for the CBI and senior public prosecutor AK Singh had sought 10 days’ remand on the ground that a longer remand was needed to identify victims, places of occurrence, modus operandi of the accused and his associates, recovery of articles including mobiles, camera etc which are used in the offences.
In none of the cases, the time and place of crime, identity of victims and offenders who are visible in the video, are clear, he pointed out.
Sahu was arrested by the CBI on Monday evening and brought to Delhi after the SDJM court in Bhubaneswar allowed three days’ transit remand to the central probe agency.
It may be mentioned that CBI has booked Sahu on charges of common intention, propagating obscene material and assault to woman with intent to outrage her modesty under provisions of Indian Penal Code, besides sections of the Information Technology Act relating to violation of privacy and publishing or transmitting obscene material in electronic form.
On Tuesday, a CBI team had conducted simultaneous raids at four places, including his rented house at VSS Nagar (Plot No. BL 5) and his office and residence at GGP Colony (Plot No. 912/913) in Bbhubaneswar. The cops seized several pen drives, CDs and incriminating materials from his office and residence. Besides, a diary containing contact details of several journalists and police personnel was also seized.
Notably, a case was registered against Kalia Sahu at Saheed Nagar police station in Bhubaneswar in 2010 after the objectionable video went viral. The victim, who was working as a receptionist in the builder’s office had approached the Commissionerate Police, which did not probe the case with sincerity allegedly due to pressure from influential people.
The victim then approached an NGO which in turn filed a petition in the Supreme Court following which the apex court handed over the case to the CBI.
The apex court had taken suo motu note of a letter of Hyderabad-based NGO Prajwala on the posting of two rape videos on WhatsApp and had asked CBI to launch a probe forthwith to nab the culprits.
A first information report was registered in the case on the order of the Supreme Court on February 27 directing the CBI to undertake an investigation into the rape videos that were posted on the popular app.
The agency has lodged eight regular cases (RCs) and a preliminary investigation and has so far, identified culprits in two cases.
It may be noted that on March 13, the Supreme Court had pulled up the Union Home ministry and governments of several states, including Odisha, for their failure to apprehend the culprits who had uploaded the videos on social networking platforms.
A social bench of the apex court comprising Justices Madan B Lokur and U U Lalit had even imposed a fine of Rs 50, 000 on the Odisha government for its failure to depute a lawyer for the hearing of the case.
In its order, the bench asked the Director General of Police (DGPs) of Uttar Pradesh, Odisha and West Bengal and Delhi Police Commissioner to cooperate with the CBI in catching the culprits in the case. It had also asked CBI to file a status report giving details of the probe conducted by it on the next date of hearing.
In a bid to apprehend the accused, the CBI has announced a cash reward of Rs 1 lakh in each case for information on the unidentified accused. Photos of these accused were also sent to DGPs of different states to facilitate their arrest.