NEWS ON HUMAN TRAFFICKING SOUTH ASIA IS A NATIONAL LEGAL RESARCH DESK – SHAKTI VAHINI INITIATIVE
A departmental inquiry has been ordered against a Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCP) from the Mumbai Traffic Police department, after the police busted an alleged prostitution racket operating at a spa set up on an Andheri (West) premises rented out by the officer.
On Thursday, an inquiry was ordered against DCP (Traffic) Nandkumar Chougule, to probe the exact details of how the racket was flourishing on the property rented out by him. “An inquiry has been ordered through Joint Commissioner of Police (Administration) S P Yadav,” said Mumbai Police Commissioner Arup Patnaik.
The matter came to light on December 10, when officers from the Social Service Branch of the Mumbai Police posed as dummy customers and approached Cleopatra Day Spa located in Seven Bungalows, Andheri (West), after receiving a tip-off that it was a front for a prostitution racket.
“After the information received was verified, the SS Branch conducted a raid on the premises, and arrested Saroj Bhakuni, who had taken the premises on rent and set up the spa there. Two of her associates were also arrested and all three accused were booked under the Prevention of Immoral Trafficking Act (PITA). They have been remanded in police custody till December 12,” said an SS Branch officer, on condition of anonymity.
The police also seized Rs 64,700 in cash, a cheque worth Rs 36,000 and two bill books.
“During subsequent investigations, Bhakuni revealed she had taken the premises on rent from DCP Chougule. While it is registered in the name of Chougule’s wife, he allegedly handled the process of giving out the property to Bhakuni on a leave-and-licence agreement,” said an officer from Versova police station, which is probing the case after the SS Branch raid.
Chougale said, “I am ready to face any inquiry and to allow the law to take its own course. The property is in the name of my wife, who is an independent income tax payer. The leave-and-license agreement signed while giving out the property clearly states that if any illegal activity takes place inside, the licensee and not the licensor will be held responsible. In that case, how am I being dragged into this issue?”
“In any case, once a property is given out on rent, it is not possible for the owner to go each day to check what is going on there. For the past two years, there had been no complaints against the spa, and so there was no reason for suspicion and checks.”