The judgement was delivered recently by Justice P D Kode, who observed that there was no merit in the appeal filed by the State Government against the order of a sessions Court acquitting the duo.
Seventy-two-year-old retired Brigadier Upkarsing Samshersing Arora and his wife Manjeet Kaur, 20 years younger to him and working as a teacher with Kendriya Vidyalaya school in Pune, were found guilty under Suppression of Immoral Traffic in Women and Girls Act by Judicial Magistrate First Class on June 15, 1996. Both of them were sentenced to one year rigorous imprisonment with Rs 1,000 fine.
However, on March 13, 1997, the Sessions Court, while hearing an appeal against the judgement, reversed the finding of guilt for commission of such offences by the duo.
Being aggrieved, the state government filed an appeal in the Bombay High Court against the order of the Sessions Court acquitting the duo. This appeal was dismissed recently.
The High Court, on hearing both the sides, agreed with the sessions court order that the prosecution evidence was full of variance of contradictions. The judge opined that in not establishing guilt of respondents beyond the failure of doubt was apparently correct as stated by the lower court and was also based upon proper appreciation of the evidence.
"In the said circumstances, it is difficult to accept the government submission that the appellate court had not properly appreciated the prosecution evidence and without cogent reasons altered the judgement and order of conviction passed by the trial court", Justice Kode observed.
"As a matter of fact, the perusal of the judgement reveals cogent reasons recorded by the appellate court in reversing the finding and setting aside the conviction not warranted upon the prosecution evidence and erroneously arrived at by the trial court," the judge remarked.
Contradictions in the prosecution's case pointed out by defence lawyer Mukhtar Khan resulted in the acquittal of the duo.
Brigadier Arora, who was receiving pension for 34 years of military service before his arrest, lost pension from the date of conviction ie June 15, 1996. Similarly, his wife Manjeet Kaur lost her job and pension too. Apparently, both have gone through financial hardship and mental trauma for more than 15 years despite being acquitted, his lawyer advocate Khan said.
"We are soon going to take up with the authorities about revising pensionary benefits for both of them. In the case of Brigadier Arora, we shall move the Defence ministry while for Manjeet Kaur we shall approach the Centre," he added.
Manjeet Kaur is MA in history and was working with Kendriya Vidyalaya in Pune as a teacher. She was employed with this school since 1971 at various locations. She has been a hockey player at national level and represented India in Japan in 1964. On the day of the raid, she had gone to the parlour as her husband was out of town.
In the High Court, Defence lawyer Khan pointed out contradictions in the case, based on which the duo were acquitted by the High Court.
He said a witness, who had acted as a bogus customer, had told the court that he had gone to the massage parlour along with police officials and witnesses in a police jeep.
One of the witnesses contradicted this saying he, too, had gone with police officials in police jeep to the massage parlour, but the witness who had acted as a bogus customer did not accompany them as police had sent him to the place one hour prior to them.
The prosecution had stated the police party raided the premises and knocked the door of the room in which the bogus customer was present with a girl of the massage parlour. The door was bolted from inside. When the door was opened they found both of them in compromising position.
"When one of the persons in the room opened the door, how could police find both of them in a compromising position?" defence lawyer asked and argued that this was one of the major contradictions in the evidence.