New Delhi: A Delhi court has acquitted five African nationals, accused of possessing and providing fake passports to foreigners living illegally in India, saying that the prosecution has failed to prove its case and "non-joining of public witness created doubt in their version".
Additional Sessions Judge Narinder Kumar absolved Gabriel Olawale Ajisafe, Sunday Odigie and Enwere Okechukwa Kelvin from Nigeria, along with Augustine John Kwaku Kyare from Ghana and Caroline Cherotich from Kenya of the offences punishable under IPC.
The accused were charged with offences under Section 120B (criminal conspiracy), read with Section 467 (forgery of valuable security), 474 (possessing forged document to use as genuine) and 489C (possession of forged or counterfeit currency notes) of IPC.
"Non-joining of public witnesses creates doubt in the version of the prosecution regarding the raid and recovery," the judge said.
The court noted that one of the officials of the raiding team, failed to identify two accused during her cross-examination.
"This court finds that prosecution has failed to prove its case beyond reasonable doubts and as such all the accused persons are acquitted in this case of all the charges framed against them," it said.
According to the prosecution, the Crime Branch of Delhi Police had received information that a gang of foreigners was in the business of providing fake passports and visas to foreigners living in India illegally, to send them abroad, by affixing fake stamps of immigration.
On a tip-off that on February 15, 2012, two Nigerians, Gabriel and Sunday, who allegedly prepared fake passports, were coming near Daryaganj here, the raiding team, comprising several officials, reached the spot, the police had said.
A trap was laid by setting up one of its members as a decoy customer seeking a fake passport, it had said, adding that he approached Gabriel and Sunday and asked them to arrange for a passport for Rs 3,000. Gabriel and Sunday had told the official that they would return in some time with the passport ready. On returning after two-three hours, they handed over the passport to the decoy customer, who called other members of the raiding team and apprehended them, the prosecution had said.
The two arrested accused led to the arrest of three others --Enwere, Augustine and Caroline-- from a flat from where they all operated, it had said.
During the search of the flat, 114 semi-complete passports, 220 currency notes in the form of US dollars, 314 fake Indian visas and 36 passports of different countries were seized, it had said.
While acquitting the accused, the court also noted that after the conversation between the official acting as a decoy customer and the accused duo, the raiding team did not follow them to the place from where they operated from.
"It remains unexplained as to why none of the members of the raiding party chased them to see as to where they were going and which was the place where the job of fake documents including passport was being done."
"This fact further creates doubt in the version of the prosecution that the party allowed them to go simply on their promise to return there after 2-3 hours," it said.
During the trial, all the accused had pleaded not guilty and claimed that they were picked from their respective residences by the police and were falsely implicated.