In a case where the AIO detained three Indian citizens on suspicion of human trafficking, the court that mere suspicion is insufficient to bring charges against the petitioner for an offence punishable under Section 370 of the IPC, is upheld by the High Court of Karnataka through the learned Judge M. NAGAPRASANNA in the case of Rajkumar v. State of Karnataka (2022 SCC OnLine Kar 660)
Brief facts of the case:
An Assistant Immigration Officer at Bangalore International Airport apprehended three Indian nationals who intended to board an Indigo aircraft to Kaula Lampur accompanied by a passenger named Rajkumar, the petitioner. The passengers disclosed that the petitioner was transporting them to Kuala Lampur for job reasons on tourist VISAS. It was also disclosed that the petitioner was presented to them by an Amritsar-based agent called Kiran.
A small number of those questioned also revealed that they have paid Rajkumar and others money. Based on the aforementioned interview and event, a complaint for an offence punishable under Section 370 of the IPC was filed against the petitioner. The present petition, filed in response to the proceedings, challenges the proceedings registered for the offences punishable under Section 370 of the PC.
After reviewing the complaint, charge sheet, and Section 370 of the Indian Penal Code, the court determined that the petitioner had engaged in human trafficking; hence, the essence of the provision is exploitation. There is no accusation in the complaint from a victim that the petitioner exploited them. The complaint, inquiry, and contradictory testimonies of the petitioner’s companions aroused the Immigration Officer’s suspicion. Suspicion arose as a result of the petitioner’s claim that others who accompanied him provided him with cash. This cannot, in my opinion, be sufficient evidence to prosecute the petitioner under Section 370 of the Criminal Code for human trafficking. Thus, the court ruled that the petitioner would be acquitted for lack of offence in a case where it would apply its inherent competence under Section 482 of the Criminal Procedure Code to eliminate such percentages.
JUDGEMENT REVIEWED BY – HARILAKSHMI