Delhi High Court

Delhi High Court: An application was filed under Section 439 of Criminal Procedure Code was filed by the applicant seeking grant of bail in case arising out of FIR registered at Police Station Chanakya Puri, Delhi for offences punishable under Sections 365, 370, 384, 506, 109 and 120-B of Penal Code, 1860 (‘IPC’). Swarana Kanta Sharma, J., denied bail considering the seriousness of the allegations and the stage of the trial, where charges have not yet been framed, and numerous witnesses are yet to be examined.

The case pertained to an FIR registered at Police Station Chanakya Puri, Delhi, involving offenses under Sections 365, 370, 384, 506, 109 and 120-B of the Penal Code, 1860 (IPC). The complaint was filed by the Secretary of an NGO, Empowering Humanity, alleging the trafficking and forced prostitution of seven Uzbekistan girls in India. The victims were purportedly brought into India under false pretenses, their passports confiscated, and coerced into the sex trade. Some victims were brought through Nepal, while others arrived on tourist or medical visas. Upon escaping, they sought refuge at the Uzbekistan Embassy, where one victim was allegedly kidnapped at gunpoint by accused individuals.

Counsel for defense contended that the applicant, though not named in the FIR, was falsely implicated based on disclosure statements from co-accused individuals. He argued about the lack of evidence linking the applicant to the alleged offenses and highlighting inconsistencies in the victims’ behavior, suggesting mistreatment by the NGO rather than the accused. The defense asserted that the applicant’s role, if any, was misrepresented and that he aided in procuring visas but was not involved in illegal activities. Conversely, the prosecution argued the seriousness of the charges, citing victim statements and disclosure statements from co-accused individuals implicating the applicant in facilitating the trafficking and prostitution ring.

The Court carefully evaluated the evidence presented by both parties. It noted the gravity of the allegations, including the trafficking of vulnerable individuals for sexual exploitation. The Court acknowledged the victim’s statements implicating the applicant in visa procurement and financial transactions related to prostitution. It also considered the potential risk of witness tampering and evidence manipulation, given the stage of the trial and the number of witnesses yet to be examined. The Court weighed the arguments put forth by the defense regarding false implication and mistreatment of victims but ultimately found the prosecution’s evidence compelling.

The Court remarked that “As per the FIR, victims had been trafficked to India either on tourist visas or medical visas or illegally via Nepal. As soon as they had entered India their passports and other travel documents had been confiscated by the accused persons. It is alleged that the said victims had been brought to India on the pretext of getting jobs. Furthermore, it has been alleged that the accused persons used to send the victims to customers in Delhi and across other states for prostitution and if the victims resisted the accused persons would threaten them of dire consequences. It has been alleged that the victims had somehow managed to escape from the clutches of the accused persons and had sought an intervention from Uzbekistan Embassy. It has also been alleged that while the victims had reached Uzbekistan Embassy two accused persons had kidnapped one victim at gunpoint from the embassy and it was only after a call had been made to the victim by the Embassy the accused persons had released her.”

After thorough consideration of the submissions and evidence, the Court dismissed the bail application. The Court concluded that due to the seriousness of the allegations, the stage of the trial, and the potential for witness interference, granting bail to the applicant would not be appropriate. However, the court clarified that the decision does not prejudge the merits of the case and merely reflects the current stage of proceedings.

[Utkirbek Khalilov v. State Govt of NCT of Delhi, 2024 SCC OnLine Del 1421, decided on 01-03-2024]

Advocates who appeared in this case :

Mr. Rajesh Rathod, Advocate for petitioner

Mr. Satish Kumar, APP for the State

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