NEW DELHI: Months after Delhi high court ordered a police probe into large-scale trafficking of young girls for flesh trade, a trial court has, in two separate cases, sentenced three women for forcing girls to work as prostitutes at brothels.
In the first case, additional sessions judge Kaveri Baweja sentenced two women-Sheetal and Rekha-to 10 years in jail for buying a minor for prostitution. In another case, judge Baweja sentenced 26-year-old Teena to seven years of rigorous imprisonment for confining a girl and under various sections of the Immoral Trafficking Prevention Act.
The court has also directed Delhi Legal Services Authority to compensate the girls under the Victim Compensation Scheme.
Also holding Sheetal and Rekha guilty of forcing the minor into prostitution, the court directed the SHO of Kamla Market police station to “ensure closure” of the brothel. “Since it has been proved on record that the premises in question…was being run as a brothel, I deem it appropriate to exercise my powers under Section 18 of Immoral Trafficking (Prevention) Act, 1956 and direct closure of the said brothel,” ASJ Baweja said.
In the second case, where the court convicted Teena, it noted that pressure was being put on the girl and her family and attempts were being made to force her to give a false statement in court. “As per the girl’s statement, her family members were offered Rs 1 lakh to reach a compromise. Undoubtedly, the benefit of such an allurement can be related directly to the accused and no one else,” the judge said.
Interestingly, in both cases, the defence argued that the prosecution had failed to prove the case beyond reasonable doubt as there were lapses in the probe. The court, however, rejected the contention saying, “it is well settled law that lapses on the part of the investigating agency can certainly not go to the benefit of the accused and cannot be a ground for acquittal”.