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HC seeks progress report from cops on investigations against cult group

The Bombay High Court directed the Mumbai Polices crime branch to submit a progress report on its probe into allegations against cult group Shifu Sunkriti.

A bench of Justices R M Savant and Sandeep Shinde directed the crime branch’s deputy commissioner of police, Dilip Sawant, to submit the report within two weeks.

The court was hearing a petition filed earlier this year by a couple from Malad, alleging that their two daughters, both in their early 20s, had been trapped by the cult group and its leader Sunil Kulkarni.

Kulkarni was arrested in April by the Mumbai police and the probe was later transferred to the crime branch.

The petitioner couple, however, yesterday alleged that the crime branch’s probe was not moving in right direction.

They also alleged that the authorities had failed to charge Kulkarni under IPC section 376 (rape) despite having witness statements to the effect.

The crime branch denied the petitioners allegations and told the court that it had gone by the statements of the victims.

Both the women had told the authorities that they had willingly joined the cult group and participated in its activities.

“The so-called young victims are actually 21 and 23 years old. One of them is a lawyer, and the other one an architect. They have given us their statements and supplementary statements. Also, their relationship with their parents was very strained,” said Aruna Pai, the lawyer for the crime branch.

The bench, however, advised Pai not to take an adversarial view of the petitioners allegation.

“We are not trying to pick holes in the probe. This court only wishes to be satisfied that the probe agency is taking all possibilities into account and conducting a fair probe,” the bench said.

“It is natural for the parents of the victims to have apprehensions. Their misgivings should be communicated to the DCP of the crime branch,” it said.

Yesterday, the bench had also said that the crime branch should consider the apprehensions of the petitioners, and the evidence on record, to infer whether or not the charge of rape under IPC section 376 was required to be imposed in the case.

Kulkarni has been charged by the crime branch with the offences of trafficking, cheating and forgery.

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