In a landmark judgement given in the 5th Addl MSJ Court, Hyderabad, two traffickers were convicted for the first time in Andhra Pradesh.
Based on the testimony of a victim, Prajwala filed a complaint in Gopalpuram P.S. The minor victim was sex trafficked by one Shankar and Swapna. She was commercially sexually exploited for over 5 months from where she escaped and reached Prajwala.
The Circle Inspector Md Ismail after hearing the victim’s version lodged a FIR (Cr No 297 of 2006 U/S 366 A, 376 IPC and Sec 3,4,5 of ITPA). After the legal formalities of medical examination, age verification, etc., statement 164 was recorded one week after the FIR was lodged. Both the accused were apprehended in the month of October.
As the victim was pregnant at the time of rescue and there were a lot of threats to her life with the joint efforts of the police and very specially the CID the victim was sheltered in a safe place and provided all protection.
The trial began in May 2007. Before the trial the victim was prepared for the court room environment and also on the nature of questions that would be asked. In one such session the public prosecutor also participated. Both victim and Dr Sunitha Krishnan were prime witnesses for the case.
Despite the hostile environment in the court the victim witness was very powerful. This was largely due to pre-trial preparations.
On 26-6-07 the Honourable Judge pronounced her verdict. For accused 1 Shankar, 7yrs RI and Rs 2000 fine under Sec 376 IPC, 2yrs RI & Rs 2000 fine U/S 4 ITPA & 5 yrs RI & Rs 2000 fine U/S 5 ITPA. Accused 2, Swapna 1yr RI U/s 4 ITPA, 3 yrs RI and Rs 200/ fine U/s 5 ITPA.
This is the first conviction in the State of Andhra Pradesh for trafficking crime. And again for the first in the state conviction has happened from both IPC and ITPA.
Prajwala wishes to thank UNODC and very specially Mr PM Nair for sensitizing the law Enforcers and Public Prosecutors. This case is a testimony of the paradigm shift in the minds of enforcement agencies.
Committed officers made a difference. Our gratitude to Md Ismail the Inspector who lodged the case, Mrs Radha Rani and Mrs Varalaxmi the Public Prosecutors, Mr Bhaskar,Director of Prosecutions, Mr Ratan,Addl DGP, Nodal Officer, AHTU,
Mr Umapati, IG,CID and Mr Mahesh Bhagwat,SP, Women Protection Cell whose tireless efforts ensured conviction.
A special mention of court constable Mr Subba Rao who was a great source of support in ensuring victim witness protection.