A Metropolitan Magistrate on Wednesday ordered the release of nine of the 11 women picked up by the Mumbai police from a restaurant on June 5 on suspicion of their involvement in a prostitution racket. But the judge refused to give them a clean chit, saying there was substance in the police information and that many women hid facts from the court.

The women were released after they gave an undertaking that they would not get involved in such activities again.

Some of the women alleged that they were wrongfully picked up by a team of the Social Service Branch of the Mumbai Police, led by Assistant Commissioner Vasant Dhoble. They said they had only gone for a party.

Seek compensation

Two of them had approached the Bombay High Court, seeking Rs. 1 crore compensation from the police for “wrongful detention and defamation.” The court disposed of the petition on the grounds that it was pending before a lower court.

On Wednesday, the special court for Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act observed that lifestyles of many of the arrested women did not match their earnings.

“During inquiry, these girls did not disclose true and complete facts about themselves and their occupation, and some even about their families. But it appears that almost all of them wish to get good money and opportunity of work in films or serials. But none of them confirmed presence of any director or producer,” Metropolitan Magistrate Swarnita B Mahale said.

“Not a birthday party”

The order said it was “not a birthday party” and that Mohan Tolani, who organised the party, used to call most of the women for parties.

“It appears that most of them [victims] are acquainted with each other as they regularly attend the parties of Tolani. No one was able to tell about the specific occasion for the party on the day of the incident,” the order stated adding that considering the background of the victims, they did not have any reason to be acquainted with the accused.

“Most of the victims said Tolani regularly calls them for parties. They went for parties because he told them that producers and directors are coming and he will introduce the victims to them,” the order said.

The court noted that relatives of the women took their responsibility; thus they did not need the shelter home anymore. “Necessary advice and admonition is given to all the victims not to visit any controversial places. They are also advised to adopt some decent mode of earning for their livelihood,” the order said.

The relatives of those released said they were relieved to have them back. “I will take care that she does not attend such dubious parties from now on,” a relative of a woman told The Hindu.

The case had raised debates about night life in the city, with some sections of society accusing Mr. Dhoble of overzealous law enforcement. He was seen wielding a hockey stick during a raid.

Residents back Dhoble

But residents of the areas where Mr. Dhoble shut restaurants, pubs and bars supported him. The Mumbai Police Commissioner too backed him, saying he was doing everything lawfully, and that the police would take action against those violating laws while running hotels and pubs.