The Nagpur bench of Bombay high court on Thursday admitted the state government appeal, challenging the acquittal of 20 persons, including one high profile special public prosecutor, a former deputy municipal commissioner and few senior police personnel from the sensational and much publicized Akola sex scandal.
While admitting the appeal, the bench, comprising, justice Vijaya Kamlesh Tahilramani and justice ML Tahaliyani ordered under section of 390 of code of criminal procedure by the appellant-police station.
The entire sex racket was exposed in January, 2008 when a 19-year old girl lodged a complaint against quite a few influential people of the district alleging that she was pushed into flesh trade.
In her initial affidavit, Richa (name changed), who was living with her maternal uncle at Akola, revealed that Akola deputy municipal commissioner, Mohan Nagulwar, Akola SP Deepak Pandey, special public prosecutor, Ganesh Pathak and some others had sexually exploited her.
During investigation, it was revealed that the victim's age might be between 16 and 19 years. The FIR mentioned the year of birth of the victim as 1989, and her birth certificate and other academic records stated it to be 1990.
The girl, a former student of the local college, disclosed that she had approached a mobile shop-owner in 2007 for a job to support her family. The shop-owner had then introduced her to a woman, Neetu Takwat, who allegedly drugged her to take nude pictures before blackmailing her into the sex racket.
However, despite efforts to extricate herself, she could not do so as Neetu, who was the kingpin in the racket, continued to blackmail her with the alleged connivance of the local police!
As a last ditch effort to save herself, she wrote to the then Maharashtra chief minister, Vilasrao Deshmukh and the home minister RR Patil, requesting security, as she feared an attack on her.
However, after the news broke, the victim did a volte face and denied the involvement of the controversial district police super, Pandey, who was earlier in the news for physically harassing his wife, Nidhi, an IAS officer.
However, the additional session court at Akola convicted only the prime accused Neetu in it's verdict in January 2011.
The lower court judge acquitted all the other 19 accused, including the special public prosecutor, Pathak, deputy municipal commissioner, Nagulwar and the then police inspector of Kotwali, Sanjay Pardesi on the basis of "insufficient" evidence against them.
All the 20 accused in the case were facing charges of rape, gangrape, extortion, conspiracy and pushing the girl into flesh trade.