Trafficking of young girls by a Cop and his paramour (1987)
This is a sordid tale of a senior police officer aiding his paramour in the despicable act of trafficking two young girls for forcing them into prostitution. On March 30, 1987, when D.Ethiraj was posted as the DSP, District Criminal Records Bureau at the Nilgiris District, he instructed his driver to receive his wife who would be coming from Madras the next day. A women did arrive the next day and stayed with DSP Ethiraj at various hotels and guest houses. Both of them visited places of tourists interest, cinema and so on and even got themselves photographed to ghether. To every one, the DSP introduced her as his ‘wife’. However, this was an absolute lie. She was not his wife but a woman of queswtionable character with whom Ethiraj had illicit relations. Her name was Mary Kutty @ P.T.Thangam.
On April 6, 1987, when the so called wife of DSP Ethiraj was enjoying the scenic sorroundings in the famed Botanical Garden at Ooty, she noticed two young girls, Sasikala and Vijaya. These girls had come to the Welfare Centre located there to collect their wages toward stitching charges. Mary Kutty engaged them in a friendly conversation in which she let them know that she had come from Madras to Ooty to visit her husband who was posted as DSP in the district. She also informed them that she was running a hotel and a plastic company at Madras and would be able to provide them with good jobs. Being a Malayalee, she was able to strike a good rapport with them as they also spoke in Malayam.
Mary Kutty took both the girls to her room at a local lodge where they were introduced to her husband DSP Ethiraj. When she persisted with her job offer to them at Madras, the young girls wanted to go and seek the permission of their father. However, she told them that there was no time for that, as she was leaving for Madras by the afternoon bus. Moreover, she assured them not to worry as their parents would be duly informed by her husband. Throughout these persuasions, Sub Inspector P.Krishnan was also present.
The young girls were completely brainwashed and persuaded to write a letter to their parents informing that they were leaving with Mary Kutty, as they were assured of good jobs at Madras. They gave this letter to a teacher working at the Welfare Center and requested her to hand over to their father. Soon after that. They were taken to the bus stand where they boarded the Madras-bond bus with Mary Kutty@ Thangam. SI Krishnan helped in arranging tickets and bus seats. They were seen by DSP Ethiraj and SI Krishnan at the bus stand in the afternoon on April 6, 1987.
When their letter reached their father,F.Santha Gruz, he panicked and rushed to the police. Ooty Police registered a case in Cr.No.260/1987 because both girls were minors. Since his complaint also cited a DSP serving in the district, the matter was brought to the notice of Tmt.Archana Ramasundaram,IPS, Superintendent of Police,the Nilgiris District. She directed to alert the Salem Police so that the bus could be intercepted en route and the girls rescued immediately.This strategy worked and both girls as well as Mary Kutty@ Thangam were secured at Salem on the night of april 6 ,1987 itself by the police and were brought back to Ooty.
During questioning by the Nilgiris Police,Mary Kutty was very aggressive and dropped the names of many bigwigs in her defence.However, both young girls gave a very clear cut version of the events to the Police,exposing the role of all the three accused.Since the case had inter-district ramifications and also involved a senior police officer,the Nilgiris SP requested the DGP to transfer the same to the CB CID for further investigation.Accordingly ,the case was entrusted to the CB CID and Tr.N.K.Velu,DSP,CB CID ,Coimbatore,took up futher investigation.
The CB CID probe clearly brought out the two girls had been abducted by Mary Kutty @ Thangam,a 35-year old resident of Alwarthirunagar,Madras,with the active connivance of her paramour DSP Ethiraj and his subordinate SI Krishnan,under the guise of offering jobs with attractive salary but actually for the purpose of forcing them into prostitution. The victims also gave the statements u/s 164 Cr PC before the chief Judicial Majistrate ,Coimbatore.Mary Kutty @ P.T.Thangam was arrested at ooty on april 11,1987 and D Ethiraj,and then DSP,DCRB, Ooty was arrested at Valasaravakkam,Chennai, on May 14,1987. Both were demanded to judicial custody. Since the role of Sub-inspector P Krishnan was not central to this crime,he was taken as an approver by the CB CID .Witnesses numbering about 75 were examined, in addition to collecting several incriminating documents during the course of investigation.
The investigation established that DSP Tr.D Ethiraj had not only misused his official position and behaved in a very unbecoming manner in taking around a women of ill-repute in official vehicles and introducing her falsely as his wife but has also aided her in this despicable crime of kidnapping two young girls for the sinister purpose of forcing them into prostitution. The sanction for prosecution of this police officer was accorded by the Government of Tamil Nadu vide G.O.Ms.No.2627 Home (Courts VI) Dept.dated 7.12.1988.
On completion of investigation ,a charge sheet u/s 366,419,119and109 IPC and 5(I)(b) of immoral traffic (Prevention) Act was filled on March 8,1989 against the accused. The CB CID successfully prosecuted the accused in the District and Sessions court,Ooty and the court convicted Mary Kutty @ P.T.Thangam u/s 5(I)(b) of the prevention of Immoral Traffic Act for 1 year RI and fined her Rs.500, three years’ RI for section 365 IPC with fine of Rs.2000/- and two years RI for section 419 IPC.Her co-accused D Ethiraj was convicted and sentenced to three years ’RI for section 366 r/w 109 IPC, one year RI for section 419 r/w 109 IPC and one and a half years’ RI for section 119 IPC on January 24 ,1992.
Both the accused filed the appeals challenging this verdict in the Madras High Court but the High Court dismissed their appeal on June 7,2002 and upheld the sentence imposed by the trial court. The High Court also passed very adverse comments stating that it was really pained to note that “a high ranking official like the Deputy Superintendent of Police, instead of booking the law breakers , had indulged in the activities of a brothel broker.”
Unable to get relief from the High Court, the accused filed a criminal appeal in the Supreme Court of India and pending decision, they were released on bail. But both appeals were dismissed by the apex Court on july 20, 2010. Not only that, the Supreme Court while dismissing the appeal filed by accused D Ethiraj, made such scathing observations as “ You are a police officer supposed to uphold the law but you kidnap girls to run a brothel. Because of people like you the entire police force gets a bad name.” The Supreme Court also expressed the view that given the magnitude of the offence, the sentence should have been higher and that the trial court as well as the High Court had apparently taken a linient view of the case.
On September 6,2010,the accused D Ethiraj, who was dismissed for service, was arrested at Chennai by a CB CID team as per the warrant issued by the District and Sessions Court, Udhagamandalam. He was produced before the court and later lodged at the Central Prison, Coimbatore. The other accused Mary Kutty @ Thangam, surrendered before the District and Sessions Court, Ooty on September 8,2010. This brought down the curtains on this shameful episode involving a police officer.