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The seven year journey to justice

Today Additional Sessions Judge, D.P. Surana convicted three women under the offence of trafficking for the purpose of sexual exploitation. The three female accused were sentenced to seven years of rigorous imprisonment and a fine of 25,000 rupees each under Section 372 read with section 34 of the Indian Penal Code for selling minors for the purpose of prostitution. The three accused women were also convicted under Section 5 of the Immoral Traffic Prevention Act (ITPA) with seven years of rigorous imprisonment and a fine of 2ooo rupees each for procuring and inducing the victims for the purpose of prostitution. The court further convicted two of the three accused women under Section 4 of the ITPA with two years rigorous imprisonment and 1000 rupees fine each for living on the earnings of prostitution. The three accused had been granted bail during the trial process, however on conviction the bail has been cancelled and an order for immediate custody was given.

In total and amount 83,000 rupees will be paid by the three accused and they will serve the terms of rigorous imprisonment concurrently. The court has additionally ordered that 75 percent of the fine recovered be divided equally and paid to both the victims who testified at the time of trial. This compensation is being awarded under section 357 of the Code of Criminal Procedure.

The rescue was conducted at Shreya Hotel seven years ago on 3 April 2009, when the Ghatkopar Police Station received information from International Justice Mission, Mumbai. The ACP at the time, Mr. Tawde, led the rescue operation, where three minor victims were rescued from being induced into prostitution.

The three accused women had lured the girls to the restaurant at Shreya Hotel to be selected by customers for the purpose of prostitution. At the time of the rescue two of the girls were between 14 to 15 years of age and the third victim was 21 years. Both the minor victims testified before the court, where they identified the perpetrators and informed the court that they had been called to the restaurant for the purpose of prostitution.

Watching Advocate, Britto Michael Jothi who represented the complainant in the case, said “this case has proved that patience is rewarded, despite the seven year wait the victory for the victims has come through. It is a sign of hope that irrespective of the numerous adjournments witnesses testified and the Court has ensured justice was done.”

The trial was prolonged due to numerous adjournments taken by the defence lawyers of each of the accused. Over the period of seven years the judge presiding over the court was transferred and eventually Judge D.P. Surana heard the matter expeditiously and pronounced the judgment after examining all necessary prosecution witnesses.

Contact: Joanita Britto -