Delhi Court Acquits 2 Women On Charge Of Soliciting For Prostitution 14 Years After FIR

The court noted that the prosecution's case had 'material omissions' and 'missing links' in the chain of circumstances. The verdict read that the state has failed to prove beyond reasonable doubt that the accused Afsana or Seema indulged in seduction or solicitation for purpose of prostitution.

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More than 14 years after an FIR was registered, a Delhi court has acquitted two women of the charge of soliciting for prostitution, saying the prosecution's case had “material omissions” and “missing links" in the chain of circumstances.

The court was hearing a case against accused Afsana and Seema, who were charged with section 8 (seducing or soliciting for purpose of prostitution) of the Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act. According to the prosecution, a raid was conducted at a house in Jagjeet Nagar locality in New Usmanpur area in Shahdara on the basis of a tip-off about a prostitution racket on October 16, 2008.  

“I find that there are material omissions in the prosecution version and missing links in the chain of circumstances sought to be proved by the prosecution. Therefore, I hold that the state has failed to prove beyond reasonable doubt that the accused Afsana or Seema indulged in seduction or solicitation for purpose of prostitution,” Metropolitan Magistrate Rupinder Singh Dhiman said in an order passed last week.  

Prostitution not illegal per say, related offences criminalised

The court said the Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act per se did not make prostitution illegal, but the punishable offences under the act included keeping and using any premises as a brothel, living on the income earned from prostitution, pimping, soliciting, seducing a person for prostitution in custody or otherwise, and prostitution in a public area etc. 

Noting the testimony of a head constable, who posed as a decoy customer, the court said the police official did not say anything about any “entreatment” being made by the two accused. Though the head constable informed other police officials about the accused persons making “obscene gestures", the allegation was not corroborated, the court said. 

Lacunae in prosecution's case

“Thus, the factum of seduction or solicitation remains unproven. Hence, there is no requirement to discuss whether the alleged seduction or solicitation was for the purpose of prostitution or not,” the court said. 

The court also said there were “inconsistencies and contradictions” in the testimonies of prosecution witnesses. Also, no earnest efforts were made to ensure public witnesses joined the raiding party, the court said. 

It said that according to the provisions of the act, a special police officer had to be appointed in a particular area for dealing with offences under it. There was, however, no material on record to show that the then station house officer (SHO) of New Usmanpur was appointed as a special police officer for complying with the provision.

“There must be a definite purpose behind the provision of appointing a police officer…within a specified area for the purpose of this act. If the ordinary police can also perform the police duties for the purposes of the act, there can be no special reason for making the provision for the appointment of a special police officer,” the court said. 

Bhajanpura police station had registered an FIR against the two accused.

(With inputs from PTI)