HC Acquits Woman in Case of Forcing Girls into Prostitution, Living off Brothel Earnings

 The Delhi High Court has acquitted a woman of the charges of keeping several girls in a house for prostitution and living off he earnings of the brothel, saying sexual exploitation or abuse of the victims could not be proved in the nearly two-decade-old case.

The high court said there was no evidence in form of any money trail to show that the woman and another convict, who passed away, had sexually exploited the victim girl for any commercial purpose.

The court said it was of the view that the woman was entitled to the benefit of doubt since the evidence brought on record was insufficient to return a finding of guilt against her for offences punishable under Sections 3 (punishment for keeping a brothel or allowing premises to be used as a brothel), 4 (punishment for living on the earnings of prostitution) and 5 (procuring, inducing or taking person for the sake of prostitution) of Immoral Trafficking (Prevention) Act.

It allowed the convict’s appeal and set aside a 2009 order by which the woman was convicted and sentenced to three-year imprisonment by a trial court. Since the other accused passed away, proceedings against him were abated.

“In the present case, there is no evidence on record, in the form of any money trail, to show that appellants had sexually exploited the victim for any commercial purpose or that they had gained out of the alleged use of house as brothel so as to sustain the charge of living on the earnings of prostitution or of running a brothel.

” the sexual exploitation or abuse of the victim could also not be proved beyond reasonable doubt by the prosecution. Moreover, identity of the two other girls who were allegedly being kept in the house of the appellants for the purpose of prostitution as alleged by the victim in the present case could neither be established and nor even finds mention in the entire investigation or charge sheet filed by the prosecution,” Justice Swarana Kanta Sharma said.

The high court also took note of several discrepancies, which made the story of prosecution doubtful.

The high court said for the charge of prostitution to sustain, the prosecution has to prove the acts of sexual exploitation’ committed by the accused persons for commercial purposes’. It was also to be proved that the house in question fell under the meaning of brothel’ and was being used for sexual exploitation or abuse for some gain’.

The case of prosecution was that the two accused were living off the earnings from prostitution and were running a brothel at their residence with a number of girls indulging in flesh trade.

According to the prosecution, the 19-year-old victim used to work as a nurse in Calcutta and she was brought to Delhi in 2004 by her neighbour on the pretext of securing for her a better job.

It alleged that after bringing the girl to Delhi, the man raped her and later took her to a couple who forced her into prostitution.

In December 2004, the girl managed to run away from the house of the couple and requested an auto driver to drop her at a railway station but he dropped her at a gurudwara where police were informed and a case was registered, the prosecution claimed.

The high court said it was not clear as to when the victim appeared before the police and magistrate. It said as she did not know Hindi, how could she clearly communicate with the auto driver and gurudwara officials in the language and narrate her story.

“The statement of the victim in her cross-examination also reveals that she had narrated all the facts of the present case and her confinement etc. completely to the auto driver. It is not clear as to when she did not know Hindi at all, how she was able to convey everything to the auto driver, or later on to the sewadars of the gurudwara,” Justice Sharma said.

The high court said it was also not clear that though the victim stated that she had taken nothing from the house of the appellants and they had not paid her the money that they were charging from the customers who were having sex with her against her consent, how she was in possession of money that she had given to the auto driver.

Related Articles

Latest Articles