A special CBI court yesterday sentenced five people, including a former Border Security Force DIG, to 10 years in prison in the 2006 Jammu and Kashmir sex scandal.
Pronouncing the quantum of sentence in a packed courtroom here, judge Gagan Geet Kaur said the convicts deserved no leniency. The court had held the five guilty on May 30. The convicts were brought to the court under tight security. Some of their family members were present there. Minor girls were pushed into prostitution in the scandal in which senior officials and politicians were alleged to be involved.
Those sentenced to rigorous imprisonment are former BSF deputy inspector general K C Padhi, former J&K deputy superintendent of police Mohammad Ashraf Mir and three others Masood Ahmad alias Maqsood, Shabir Ahmad Langoo and Shabir Ahmad Laway.
Any period spent by them in custody during the trial will be set off against their term of imprisonment. The court came down heavily upon Padhi and Mir, saying such acts could not be expected from those the society regarded as its protectors. The five were convicted under Section 376 of the Ranbir Penal Code which deals with the offence of rape.
The court also imposed a fine of Rs 1 lakh each on Padhi and Mir, ordering that they will undergo another year of rigorous imprisonment if they defaulted on its payment.
It slapped a fine of Rs 50,000 each on Masood Ahmad, Langoo and Laway, who will serve another six months in prison if they failed to pay. The amount will be used as compensation for the loss of the victim’s reputation and dignity, mental harm and loss of opportunity of education, the judge said.
“A victim of rape inevitably suffers acute trauma. Rape itself brings enormous shame to the victim,” she said. It was unfortunate that sexual violence against women still existed in the 21st century, the court observed. The court rejected the contention by the convicts that they did not have knowledge of the age of the prosecutrix.
With the prosecutrix being a minor, the question as to whether she was habitual to sexual activity or not is immaterial to determine the issue of consent, it was held.
Langoo was charged with raping the victim twice when she did not accept his marriage proposal. The court rejected the plea for a lesser sentence for former BSF officer Padhi, who cited factors such as his old age (67), killing 40 militants while being posted in J&K and serving the nation.
Earlier, on May 30, the court had acquitted former Additional Attorney General of J&K Anil Sethi and another accused Mehrajuddin Malik. Two other two accused, Sabeena, who ran a brothel, and her husband Abdul Hamid Bullah died during the course of the trial. The infamous scandal hit the headlines in 2006 when J&K police recovered two CDs showing Kashmiri minors being sexually exploited.
The minors were coerced into prostitution and supplied to top police officials, bureaucrats, politicians and surrendered militants. During the investigation, J&K police prepared a list of 56 suspects including some high-profile people for their alleged involvement in the sex scandal.
The case was shifted to the Central Bureau of Investigation in 2006 after the names of some ministers also surfaced. The Supreme Court shifted the case to Chandigarh later that year. The then J&K chief minister Oman Abdullah had submitted his resignation in 2009 when an opposition leader linked him to the case.
J&K Governor N N Vohra, however, refused to accept the resignation.