Setback for AAP MLA in child labour rescue case
A Delhi court has set aside an order discharging AAP MLA Amanatullah Khan in a 2010 case in which he was accused of threatening and obstructing labour department officers and a NGO team from rescuing child labourers from zari units here.
Special Judge Arun Bhardwaj said the legislator and one Saifiullah Siddiqui were liable to be charged for the alleged offences of abatement to kidnap and criminal intimidation to cause death or grievous hurt.
The Sessions Court has directed both the accused to appear before an Additional Chief Metropolitan magistrate on Wednesday for formal framing of charges against them.
The case relates to the rescue of 15 child labourers by the police and the NGO from Batla House, Jamia Nagar here.
However, a mob allegedly led by Khan and Siddiqui gathered at the spot, threatened to kill the rescuing team and forcibly took away the children.
The magisterial court had discharged the two accused as the police filed the charge sheet in 2016, six years after the lodging of the FIR, which was much beyond the permissible time limit.
The Sessions Court said if the trial court had considered section 473 (extension of period of limitation in certain cases) of the CrPC, "this court is hopeful that the trial court would have taken a contrary view considering that it was a case involving 15 child labourers who were rescued but again snatched back using criminal intimidation by the accused persons and it would have condoned the delay in the interest of justice".
The Sessions Court passed the order on Monday disposing of a revision petition filed by Rakesh Senger, a former National Secretary of NGO Bachpan Bachao Aandolan (BBA), challenging the discharge.
"This is the fact situation in the capital of the country. When an NGO armed with various orders of the courts was part of the rescue team comprising of officers of Labour Department and police, still they had to flee to save their life and the police personnel remained silent spectator while the accused persons threatened them that they will be killed or their bones would be broken," said the order made available on Tuesday.
The court rejected the NGO's plea to charge the accused for the offences under Sections 186 and 353 of CrPC in the absence of a written complaint by the public servant to the court.
It also said the MLA and the other person cannot be charged for the offence of kidnapping as it was not done by the two but by a large group of people who had come with them.
On the maintainability of the revision plea, the court said Senger has a locus standi to file the petition and the NGO with which he was associated was trying to enforce the law wherever the law enforcing agencies have failed to do so.
It said that in a case where offence was committed against a rescue team, there was no third party as the cause was in true sense a common cause in which every citizen of this country was interested.
"It was a duty of every citizen to help the law enforcing agencies to check the child labour wherever the same was noticed and if during the process, any offence was committed against the person who otherwise has no personal interest in the matter, he would be a victim and entitled to assail order of discharge passed by the trial court," the court said.
Senior advocate H S Phoolka, appearing for Senger, had earlier aruged that the wagisterial court, while discharging Khan and Siddiqui, "ignored the evidence and material on record which was contrary to the facts and also against the well settled law".
"The trial court has erroneously held that the rescue team cannot be said to be the guardian of the rescued children.
"It is once again reiterated that the rescue team and the SDM were lawful guardian of the rescued children who were taken away forcibly from their custody by the accused persons...," the petition, filed through advocate Shilpa Dewan, had said.
A magisterial court had on May 3 discharged both the accused and pulled up the police for its "lethargic" investigation.
An FIR was registered in Jamia Nagar police station on November 1, 2010 on the complaint of the then sub-division magistrate, who was leading a rescue team of child labourers in that area.
The FIR had said 15 child labourers were rescued by the authorities from different zari units in a joint raid launched in Batla House area by a task force on elimination of child labour, the sub-divisional magistrate, officials of the Labour Department, the Delhi Police and NGO BBA on November 1, 2010.
The children were taken to a vehicle of the NGO, but the accused (Khan) and others obstructed them from taking them away, shouted at the authorities and had an altercation with labour department officials, it was alleged.
(With inputs from agencies.)