A warrant of arrest recently issued by the Sealdah criminal court against Bollywood actor and model Zareen Khan, based on a Calcutta Police charge sheet which slaps non-bailable sections of cheating and criminal breach of trust, has given rise to speculations whether city cops would carry out the arrest and present the accused before the court on November 23 as directed by the court.
The warrant was issued in the wake of the actor failing to turn up before court ignoring multiple appearance notices issued by the judge during the course of hearing.
Khan’s counsel, Rizwan Siddiquee, however confirmed that he would move Calcutta High Court to have the order set aside.
The complaint against the actor was filed back in November 2018 by Vishal Gupta, who runs a talent management agency and claims to have worked closely with several Bollywood celebrities, alleging that the film star backed out from appearing at eight Kali Puja pandal inaugurations in Calcutta and Salt Lake after accepting a full payment of Rs 12 lakhs for the purpose. Gupta further alleges that he received death-threats from the Mumbai underworld following his demand to return the money and was forced to leave Mumbai after Khan used her influence to kill his reputation and stopped clients from making work offers.
Completing investigation, cops from Narkeldanga Police Station filed a charge sheet against the accused on August 20 this year slapping sections 406 (criminal breach of trust), 506 (criminal intimidation) 120B (criminal conspiracy) and 420 (cheating) of the IPC on her.
“I had not only paid her in full as per our agreement, I had also put up no less than 300 billboards across Calcutta announcing her arrival in the city which cost me substantially, Gupta said, “I had her suites booked in the city’s top five-star property and rooms in the same hotel for her team members. That aside, I had arranged for her bouncer and police security, a vanity van and security escorts for the entire duration of her stay as agreed. Her abrupt cancellation of the visit dealt a body blow to my business.”
Siddiquee, though, rubbished those charges and counter-alleged: “My client saved herself at the last minute despite reaching the Mumbai airport for her travel, realizing these people were out to commit a fraud with her and were planning to make her board a flight unescorted. The organizers also impersonated ministers of the Bengal government and misled her to believe that the event was being organized by the Bengal government where the chief minister and other ministers would be present.”
“The Calcutta High Court has already directed continuous protection to my client against coercive action after finding that no prima facie criminal case was made out against her. The present magistrate’s order of issuing an arrest warrant seems to be in violation of the previous High Court order and we will move the court to get it quashed,” Siddiquee said.
Gupta, on his part, maintained that the actor was never kept under any misleading information about the event. “The patrons of these pujas were some leaders of the ruling party or the other, senior leaders like Tapas Roy, Madan Mitra and Sabyasachi Dutta. We also told Khan about her possibility of sharing the dais with the chief minister since she inaugurates pandals as a routine affair, especially those which are managed by senior leaders of her party. There were no attempts to misguide her in this,” asserted Gupta.
“The fact that Khan and her travel companions were separated in two different aircraft was a doing of the airline,” he added “and we had no say in that.” “There is no protection against her in court now. The one which existed expired on June 25 since she failed to appear in court after repeated notices,” argued Gupta.
“In about the same time I filed the criminal case against Khan in Calcutta, I had also filed a civil defamation case against her in Mumbai. The influence of the actor and her clout is such that despite six years passing, not a single hearing has taken place in that case so far,” Gupta rued, stating, “I only hope that the Calcutta Police acts on the court order and arrests her,” he said.