Pat HC | Immoral Trafficking: Hotel owner present in room adjacent to rooms from where couples found in semi-naked condition – matter requiring complete trial

Patna High Court: The Bench of Ahsanuddin Amanullah, J. dismissed a hotel owner’s petition assailing dismissal of the application for his discharge, holding that since couples were found in semi-naked condition in hotel rooms adjacent to petitioner’s room, it was a matter requiring a complete trial.

A case of immoral trafficking was registered against the petitioner, pursuant to which he filed an application for discharge under Sections 227 and 228 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973. The said application was rejected by the Magistrate. Hence, the instant petition was filed under Section 482 CrPC.

Learned counsel for the petitioner, Mr Shri Prakash Srivastava, submitted that as per Section 15 of the Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act, 1956 only a special police officer is empowered to search without a warrant. Since the raid at petitioner’s hotel was not conducted by a special police officer, the whole search was vitiated in law and no criminal prosecution based on the same was permissible. Further, no medical examination was done on the couples produced before the Magistrate to establish any scientific evidence relating to there being immoral trafficking.

Learned counsel for the respondent, Mr Pramod Kumar, submitted that the raid was conducted in presence of Additional/Assistant Superintendent of Police who is notified as a ‘special police officer’ under the Act. Further, Section 15(5-A) of the Act provides for examination by a registered medical practitioner only for the purposes of determination of age, or detection of any injuries. Lastly, the petitioner, being the owner, was in the room adjacent to rooms where couples were recovered in semi-naked condition and, thus, he could not take the plea of innocence or ignorance.

The Court opined that no legal provision had been violated. Petitioner being the owner of hotel, and being present in the room adjacent to rooms from where couples were found in semi-naked condition, at this stage, could not be said to be innocent. Thus, the petition was dismissed holding that a full-fledged trial was required in the matter.[Sudhir Kumar v. State of Bihar, 2019 SCC OnLine Pat 289, Order dated 06-03-2019]

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