Monday , September 20 2021

HC acquits 85 persons arrested from a Highway hotel in Udaipur under PITA

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‘Circle Officer had no authorization to conduct raid and investigation’

Udaipur : Quashing the order of an ADJ court in Udaipur, the Jodhpur High Court on Friday acquitted 85 persons of offence under the Prevention of Immoral Trafficking Act (PITA). These people, most of them from various places in Gujarat, were arrested by the police in a sudden raid from a resort on Udaipur-Ahmedabad Highway on April 5, 2015. It was a first case in Rajasthan where such a large number of people were arrested under charges of immoral trafficking. An Additional Chief Judicial Magistrate court (P.C.P.N.D.T. Act Cases), Udaipur had directed to frame charges against the accused and the petitioners Pankaj Bansal and his wife Neelima Bansal had filed a revision petition at the Additional Sessions court which was rejected. The petitioners filed an appeal under section 482 Cr.P.C.,and challenged the order.

The petitioners counsel held that Circle Officer (CO)Ranu Sharma who conducted the raid on the disputed premises was not authorised to do so under the provisions of the PITA Act and as such, the entire proceedings are vitiated. No notification has ever been issued by the State Government to appoint Ranu Sharma to be a special police officer under Section 2(i) of the PITA Act, the entire proceedings including the order taking cognizance which are based on totally illegal and unauthorised search and seizure are vitiated and as such, the proceedings sought to be taken against the petitioners deserve to be quashed. They further held that the C.O. did not comply with the mandatory requirement of Section 15(2) of the PITA Act as per which, two or more respectable inhabitants of the locality have to be associated to attend and witness the search and seizure under the act.

The HC in its decision held that it is virtually an admitted position that the CO RanuSharma was not appointed as a special police officer under the PITA Act and  it has to be assumed that she was not having any authority of law to either conduct the raid or to carry out the investigation. ” Since the charge-sheet and the order framing charges etc. are based on unauthorised search and seizure, entire such proceedings are vitiated and cannot be allowed to continue.  Hence the HC quashed both the orders passed by the subordinate courts and ordered the entire proceedings of Criminal Original Case No.1305/2015 which were launched on the basis of the search carried out by an unauthorised police officer to be quashed.

The raid

Udaipur police busted a party on the night of 5th April, 2015 held at Udai Palace on the Udaipur-Ahmedabad highway. 85 persons including 16 women who were said to be ‘call girls’ from Mumbai, Delhi, Ahmedabad, Bhopal and Agra, were arrested. Most of the men arrested were businessmen from Surat, Valsad, Ahmedabad in Gujarat, Kishangarh and Dungerpur who were sent special invitation by the organizers of the event. It was the first case in Raj where a large group sex racket was busted and all persons  booked under varying sections of PITA.

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