A special Central Bureau of Investigation court on Saturday acquitted former Jammu and Kashmir minister Raman Mattoo, Congress legislator G A Mir and IAS officer Iqbal Khanday in the 2006 JK sex scandal case.
The case, allegedly involving a host of politicians, bureaucrats and businessmen, had triggered a major controversy.
The court gave benefit of doubt to all three. Public Prosecutor R K Handa later told reporters outside the court that the investigating agency had sought prosecution of the witnesses/victims "who have turned hostile deliberately by giving false statements".
"In Mattoo's case, two victims turned hostile while in Mir and Khanday's case, one victim turned hostile," said Handa, the Special CBI counsel.
They were acquitted under Section 5 of the Prevention of Immoral Trafficking Act as the court gave them benefit of doubt and the victim also turned hostile while recording statements in the court, he said.
"The court has given the three people benefit of doubt and acquitted them. The victim had turned hostile at the stage of cross-examination of her statements in the court. However, earlier she had allegedly accused the three before the police and J&K court," he said.
The scandal hit the headlines in March 2006 after an MMS was found doing the rounds in Jammu and Kashmir. Various cases were registered in which 14 accused, involving politicians, senior bureaucrats and police officers were named.
In September 2006, the Supreme Court had ordered transferring of the case to the Chandigarh sessions court from JK. The order to transfer the trial to Chandigarh came on a petition of 14 accused who contended that "no lawyer" in Srinagar was willing to defend them.
The vidence process continued for over three years in Chandigarh sessions court and later the case was transferred to the CBI special court in October 2010.
A total of nine cases for various offences, under Section 376 (rape), Immoral Trafficking Act and the Information Technology Act were registered.
Handa said that in the remaining cases, the accused include a deputy inspector general rank officer, two deputy superintendents of police and one former additional advocate general of J&K.
Nine accused were named in one case, while three each were named in the remaining eight cases. The prime accused had been named in all the cases.