5 held guilty in J&K sex scandal plead for leniency

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Press Trust of India
CHANDIGARH, JUN 04:
Five persons, including a former DIG of the BSF, who have been found guilty by a special CBI court here in the 2006 J&K sex scandal, today sought leniency on various grounds even as the public prosecutor strongly opposed it and demanded exemplary punishment for them.
The arguments on the quantum of punishment concluded today and the sentence will be pronounced on June 6.
On May 30, the court had held five persons guilty including K C Padhi, a former deputy inspector general of the Border Security Force, and Mohammad Ashraf Mir, a former deputy superintendent of police in J&K.
Three others found guilty were Masood Ahmad, Shabir Ahmad Langoo and Shabir Ahmad Laway.
The court acquitted former additional AG Anil Sethi and Mehrajuddin Malik. The other two
5 held guilty . . . . .
accused, Sabeena, who allegedly ran a brothel, and her husband Abdul Hamid Bullah, died during the course of the trial.
The five accused were convicted under Section 376 of the Ranbir Penal Code which deals with the offence of rape.
The five convicts were present before the special CBI court which heard pre-sentencing arguments.
The counsel for the former BSF DIG sought a lesser sentence citing various reasons including ‘conduct of the prosecutrix’, age of the accused being 67 years, taking into account his family circumstances as his wife died of trauma during the trial and the fact that the accused was alone as his two daughters were married.
Padhi’s counsel also submitted that the ex-DIG had served for the country being posted in J&K where he had taken on militants, had no previous conviction in any case, and was not aware of the fact that the victim was a minor.
Shabir Ahmad Langoo’s counsel stated that the girl may have been a minor, but she was “mentally very sound”.
While praying for “minimum sentence” the counsel argued that crimes against women deserved to be given harsh punishment, but in the light of present case, the “conduct of the prosecutrix” should also be taken into account.
Former DSP Mohd Ashraf Mir’s counsel argued that the accused could not judge the age of the girl just by having a look at her physical characteristics and arrive at conclusion that she was a minor.
Besides, he submitted that age factor of the accused being 65 years old and his health issues may also be taken into account and a lesser sentence be awarded.
However, the CBI prosecutor strongly opposed any leniency to any accused.
He argued that it was the duty of people like Padhi, who was a senior BSF official then, to act as protectors of the society.
The CBI prosecutor argued that the minor girls did not know what was going on with them and therefore the arguments of the defence that they were already into immoral activities did not hold much water.
“The minor girl did not have any power to understand what was going on with her… I don’t think being a DIG rank officer should be a mitigating factor, rather it should be an aggravating factor. Maximum punishment be given because people were looking up to people like him as a protector since he was occupying a high post,” the prosecutor submitted.
Countering Langoo’s counsel, the prosecutor said, “the girl was not knowing what was going on with her..mental capacity of the girl is being talked here and to say that she had a mental capacity is making a mockery. She was pulled into this (immoral activities)”.
About Mohd Ashraf Mir, he said, “he was a DSP in J&K police then. He knew what he was doing.”
The CBI prosecutor said that any of the accused “do not deserve lesser punishment” as they knew what impact their actions were having, besides leaving “mental scars on the girls”.
The infamous J&K sex scandal had hit the headlines in 2006 when J&K police had recovered two CDs showing Kashmiri minors were being sexually exploited. The minors were coerced into prostitution and supplied to top police officials, bureaucrats, politicians and surrendered militants.
During investigation in this case, J&K police had prepared a list of 56 suspects including high profile individuals, for their alleged involvement in the sex scandal.
The case was shifted to the CBI in 2006. The Supreme Court shifted the case to Chandigarh in 2006.

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