New Delhi, May 6 : Twelve years after being falsely accused of rape and later convicted, four men were Tuesday acquitted by Delhi High Court of the charges brought against them by a sex worker with the alleged connivance of some Delhi Police officials.
One of the men, Pankaj Chaudhari in his plea before the court claimed that he was “paying the price for opposing a flesh trade racket near his house in 1997“.
He was arrested, along with his brother Gunjesh, and two friends Jailal Yadav and Kashim Rain, on charges of raping a neighbour, who allegedly ran a prostitution ring.
They were jailed on July 28, 1997, and then convicted for gangrape in 2000, after police then manning the Hauz Khas police station – apparently at the instance of the sex worker – decided to frame them for protesting against the racket which led to her business suffering.
Subsequently, an inquiry was ordered within the police department. The high court released the four men on bail in 2001.
“Due to allegations of rape, a stigma is attached to our names and we are facing great hardships in finding any job for our livelihood. We have been thrown out of jobs and are unable to live with dignity because we are called rapists,” they stated in their petition.
Justice S. Muralidhar acquitted the four, but reserved order on the plea of taking action against the then police officials involved in the case.
After they were convicted in 2000, their relatives alleged foul play, which led Amod Shastri, heading an NGO called Nyay Bharti, to probe the case.
Shastri’s efforts revealed that while the woman claimed she was raped at 9.30 p.m. by the four, another complaint in the same police station showed that she was arrested the same afternoon for indulging in flesh trade and let off at 10.30 p.m. on a bond of Rs.500. This indicated that she was actually at the police station at the time she claimed to have been raped at her home.