Six years after they were booked on the charge of procuring,inducing or taking a person for the sake of prostitution,two former J&K ministers and a senior bureaucrat were acquitted today by a special CBI court in what came to be known as the Srinagar sex scandal.
Giving them the benefit of doubt,special CBI judge Vimal Kumar acquitted Ghulam Ahmed Mir,sitting MLA and a former minister,Raman Mattoo,former MLA and minister,Mohammad Iqbal Khandey,IAS,alleged sex ring kingpin Sabina and her husband Abdul Hamid Bullah. The couple,however,still face charges of rape in a case being tried in a different court.
A U-turn in court by three victims resulted in a clean chit to the accused. Of the more than 30 witnesses in the case,the three victims did not support the case of the prosecution.
The CBI had made out a case that the three victims were sex workers and were procured by the two former ministers and the IAS officer. But the three women retracted from their statements and denied they were sex workers. Declining to identify the three accused,the victims also denied that they were procured by the accused.
The CBI had earlier got the statements of the three victims recorded in the presence of judicial magistrates.
Not only were their statements recorded and testified in the presence of judicial magistrates and independent witnesses but the written statements were translated in Kashmiri language and read out to the three sex workers, said advocate R K Handa,special public prosecutor for CBI.
But the three victims told the court that they had never met the accused. Handa had asked the court to initiate perjury proceedings against them. He had also claimed that the prosecution had sufficient evidence against the accused to prove that they had procured the three sex workers from a brothel allegedly run by Sabina.
The two former ministers and senior IAS officer were charged under Section 5 of the Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act that relates to procuring,inducing or taking person for the sake of prostitution. Sabina and her husband were charged under Section 3 and 4 of Act which deal punishment for keeping a brothel or allowing premises to be used as a brothel and punishment for living on the earnings of prostitution.
A case was registered after the scandal surfaced in Jammu and Kashmir in 2006. The case was shifted to the Chandigarh sessions court on September 4,2006. Charges were framed by the then district and sessions judge on March 21,2007. The case involved a total of 14 accused.
The case against those booked on the charge of rape is still pending adjudication. Of the 14 accused,the two former ministers and the IAS officer were only charged under the Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act. Sabina and her husband are also accused of rape.