Bhubaneswar, Oct. 12: A photo studio owner of the city was arrested yesterday on charges of sexually exploiting an unmarried woman.
The accused, Surath Panda, who is married and has a son, was sent to jail after a local court rejected his bail plea.
Mahila Police said that the father of the 22-year-old victim, a resident of Raghunathpur village under Nandankanan police station, lodged a complaint with the Nandankanan police.
He accused Panda of kidnapping his daughter on September 10, when she had gone to his studio at Damana Square.
He also had claimed that the accused had sexually assaulted his daughter.
Nandankanan police yesterday referred the case to the Mahila Police as the matter falls under the latter’s jurisdiction.
Sources at the Mahila police station said that after inquiry, they found that the girl had willingly gone with Panda and they had sexual relationship with her consent. “However, the girl was unaware of Surath’s marital status. She said that the accused cheated on her, following which her father lodged the complaint,” said a police officer.
Following a complaint made by the girl’s father, the police registered a case under sections 493 (cohabitation caused by a man deceitfully inducing a belief of a lawful marriage), 417 (cheating) and 509 (word, gesture or act intended to insult the modesty of a woman) of the Indian Penal Code. The police said that though the father, in his complaint, had mentioned the girl was kidnapped and raped, the girl said that she had fled with the accused and was staying with him in Cuttack.
However, she said that Panda had deceitfully kept a relationship, with the promise of marriage.
Both the victim and the accused returned to their homes yesterday. But Panda, who has been married for the past eight years, refused to marry her despite being engaged in a physical relationship.
“As the girl was not a minor, we did not treat the matter as a case of rape. However, she said she was cheated by the accused. Hence, we booked the studio owner accordingly and forwarded him to court today,” said the police officer.