AN EMPLOYEE of a shop located on the premises of a five-star hotel in south Mumbai has been acquitted of charges of molesting an US national in 2013, as the police failed to summon the woman to depose before the court.
Moreover, two other hotel employees did not support the prosecution’s case, denying knowledge about the alleged incident. While CCTV footage from the hotel was retrieved that showed the accused had entered the victim’s room, it was not established as electronic evidence by the police, the magistrate’s court that acquitted the accused last week said.
“Here, it is visible that the informant is (an) American citizen and the prosecution miserably failed to serve her (summons) through (the US) embassy or record her evidence through electronic media,” it added.
The woman, who had come to the city on a visit with her friend, had visited the shop on December 2, 2013 for stitching her dresses.
At the shop, after the accused took the victim’s measurements, she returned to her room. Soon after, the accused called her to say that there was some problems with the measurements and wished to come to her room. As the woman agreed, the accused went to her room and allegedly touched her inappropriately.
Following this, the victim approached the Colaba police, which registered an FIR under sections including 354 A (sexual harassment) and 509 (outraging modesty of a woman) of the IPC.
During the trial, the police examined four witnesses, including a sales manager posted at the hotel, and another staffer. While the manager told the court that she did not know anything about the incident, the staffer said he had taken the measurements for the dress and the accused had written down the same but later misplaced the paper. Both the manager and the staffer were declared hostile by the prosecution. The court said it could not only rely on CCTV footage and the statement of the investigating officer, who had submitted that the victim’s statement was recorded before a magistrate.
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