2006 J&K sex scandal: HC upholds conviction of four, acquits ex-BSF DIG
The Punjab and Haryana high court on Thursday acquitted former Border Security Force (BSF) deputy inspector general, KC Padhi and convicted four persons, including a former deputy superintendent of police (DSP), in the 2006 Jammu and Kashmir sex scandal.
With this, the 10-year jail term to Padhi has been quashed but upheld against former DSP, Mohammad Ashraf Mir and three others Shabbir Ahmed Laway, Shabbir Ahmed Langoo and Masood Ahmed, all locals. All of them were convicted by a Chandigarh CBI trial court in 2018. The trial court had acquitted two persons named in the scandal former state law officer, Anil Sethi and Mehrajudin Malik. The ‘kingpin’ of the scandal, Sabeena, and her husband died during trial, who were accused of forcing minors into prostitution for ₹250 to ₹500 in Srinagar. The sex scandal came to light in 2006 after the police recovered some video CDs of minor Kashmiri girls being sexually exploited. The allegations were levelled against the security forces officers, police officials, ministers and other influential people. The names of 57 people had cropped up ,initially.
The case was handed over to CBI amidst raging controversy. It was on intervention of the apex court that trial was shifted out of the state. Four victims had turned hostile during the trial and conviction has taken place in one minor girl’s case. As many as 60 witnesses were examined, said senior advocate, Bipan Ghai, who appeared for Padhi. Acquitting former BSF officer, the HC bench of justice Arvind Singh Sangwan took note of a witness statements that his wife used to reside with him and no lady had ever visited his house except Padhi’s two daughters when the alleged rapes transpired. Also, it took note of statements that the BSF cantonment was a highly vulnerable area and entry without proper authorisation was not possible . It also took note of accounts that 40 militants were killed on different occasions in operations led by Padhi. “...By using feeble shoulders of the minor as a pedestal some organisations tried to settle their own agendas against paramilitary forces. Therefore, false implication of Padhi under pressure cannot be ruled out,” the bench observed in its 140-page judgment. As of convictions of four others, the court said it is proved that the girl was minor at the time of incident and argument of convicts of not knowing her age was inconsequential.
Don’t remain silent spectator if sexual crime victims are asked lewd questions: HC to trial courts
The Punjab and Haryana high court has directed courts in both the states and Chandigarh to not remain a silent spectator if victims of sexual crimes are asked lewd questions by lawyers .
The high court bench of justice Arvind Singh Sangwan gave these directions, taking note of such instances reported in trial court proceedings of the Jammu and Kashmir sex scandal. The registrar general will circulate observations made in this judgment to all the courts dealing with cases of crime against women regarding lewd, filthy and indecent questions put to the prosecutrix, which could not be allowed by the trial court, the bench said. While conducting the cross-examination of victims of sexual assault, the court should be vigilant that the defence counsel should not adopt a strategy of questioning the prosecutrix as to the detail of the rape, it said, adding that courts should not sit like a silent spectator while the victim of the crime is being cross-examined by the defence and it should effectively control the recording of evidence to avoid her victimisation.