While overturning the acquittal of a man accused of forcing a 14-year-old girl into prostitution in Nashik, the Bombay High Court acknowledged there had been a “miscarriage of justice.”
Justice Prithviraj Chavan sentenced the man to 10 years in prison for involving the minor in the flesh trade on the pretext of taking her to buy clothes and chappals. As per the prosecution, the girl was familiar with the accused, referring to him as “mama” (maternal uncle), and he was a neighbour of the victim’s cousin.
The court rejected the portrayal of the accused as innocent, considering his frequent visits to the red-light area. Terming his acquittal by the trial court a “miscarriage of justice”, the bench reversed the decision.
“There is every likelihood of the accused being a pimp,” Justice Chavan remarked while sentencing him to 10 years in prison.
In February 2013, the accused, now convicted, took the minor to Nashik and then to a red-light area.
Upon entering a brothel’s room, the girl began crying and fled. She managed to escape and was rescued by social workers from Disha Sanstha, an organisation that cares for the welfare of prostitutes.
Subsequently, a case was registered against the man at the Bhadrakali Police Station in Nashik.
During the trial, the prosecution examined the victim and witnesses from the red-light area who stated that the man frequently brought women there and that on the day in question, he had brought the victim.
WAS ACQUITTED OVER ‘BENEFIT OF DOUBT’
The accused, testifying on his behalf, claimed that women in the red-light area had attempted to snatch money from him. Upon his resistance, they dragged him to the police station and filed a false report.
According to him, he was taking his children home to Nashik when the victim’s brother and his wife sent her with him. Despite his reluctance, they prevailed upon him. However, no defence evidence was presented on his behalf.
Nevertheless, the sessions court acquitted the man, giving him the “benefit of the doubt.” This decision was contested before the High Court by the state.
Relying on witnesses’ testimonies, Justice Chavan noted that from the outset, the man had intentions of taking the victim to the red-light area. The victim’s alleged voluntary act of accompanying the man was deemed insignificant, as it amounted to kidnapping from her lawful guardianship, the court held.
Upon convicting the man, the High Court observed that cases of inducing minors into prostitution are on the rise, concluding that the man does not deserve sympathy. The court also underlined the need to have a deterrent effect in this aspect.
“The offences committed by the respondent-accused (man) are indeed serious and have their impact on societyâæ It appears that the victim had reposed trust in the respondent-accused since she used to call him Mama,” said Justice Prithviraj Chavan.
The court further added, “Of late, there is a rise in cases under The Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act, 1956âæ The respondent-accused herein had indeed committed the aforementioned offences, and therefore, he does not deserve sympathy. In order to curb such a social evil, some deterrence is required.”