September 24, 2010

Times of India

20 get double life terms in infamous sex scandal

Ahmednagar : District and session court Judge Makarand Keskar has convicted 20 accused to two life terms for their involvement in the 2006 high profile sex scandal.
The judgment was delivered by the court late last evening.

The judge also fined all the convicts Rs 10,000 each for every section they were charged with, out of which 50 per cent amount will be given to the victim, failing which they will have to undergo additional jail terms of three months to one year.

A total of 25 people comprising local politicians, businessmen and hotel owners had been booked in the case. However, the main accused Sheela Bargal, died a couple of months after the case was registered in February 2006. Three suspects are still absconding. The verdict against another accused Satish Pakhare, has been postponed to December 20 since he is in hospital following a serious accident.

According to the police report in 2006, Bargal used to clandestinely supply girls to customers and lure the minor girls with promise of giving money.

The case was exposed by Childline-Shehalaya in Ahmednagar following a tip-off.

Childline convinced the victims, two minor girls, to file a police complaint at the Tofkhana police station. The minor girls were gangraped in various lodges in Ahmednagar, Shirdi, NimgaonJali and Dhule by the 25 accused. Since several local politicians and traders were involved in the scandal, the case was handed over to the state Crime Investigation Department (CID), which had filed a chargesheet.

The convicts were punished under section 376(2)(G)gang rape, 120(B), 376(Rape),120(B) and section 5(A)(1)(D) of the Prevention of Immoral Trafficking Act(PITA) and 366 (kidnapping).

The case was pleaded by special Public Prosecutor Advocate Vijay Sawant.


Sonia Gandhi drives Krishna Tirath to frame child abuse law

Under pressure from their boss — Congress president Sonia Gandhi — the ministries of law and women and child development (WCD) have quickly set aside their differences and together prepared the draft the for Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Bill.

The proposed law will cover all new aspects of sexual offences against children and recommend stringent punishment. Once it is passed, this law will take priority over other laws on the same subject.

The move comes after Gandhi wrote to WCD minister Krishna Tirath asking her to hasten up the process of formulating the law and coordinate with the law ministry, which had already prepared a law on similar lines .

“I understand that this omnibus legislation is likely to take some time...There is a need to immediately bring a law that addresses the issue of sexual offences against children with care and sensitivity, without waiting for a more comprehensive legislation on child offences in general which may take time,” Gandhi wrote to Tirath in her capacity as chairperson of National Advisory Council.

After the rap from Sonia, the two ministries got their acts together and readied the draft of the proposed legislation. Tirath has now informed Gandhi that the bill has been vetted by secretaries of both ministries and is ready for circulation. This is being done to get the views of various departments and ministries. According to Tirath, the bill is likely to be introduced in the winter session of Parliament.

The bill aims to protect children against sexual assault, sexual harassment, pornography and provide for the establishment of special courts to try such offences. The punishment recommended for penetrative sexual assault is at least five years imprisonment and a minimum fine of Rs50,000. Sexual assault also includes fondling the child and will invite a penalty of minimum three years imprisonment. There is a special provision that makes use of children in pornography punishable.

Possessing child pornographic material also carries punishment. According to the bill, the media, studios and photographers are obliged to report child pornography cases and a failure to do so will attract punishment.

To prevent misuse of the law, there is a six-month jail term for all those who make false complaints and give false information. While reporting child abuse, the media will be barred from identifying the victim and the accused’s children or giving other personal details.

The bill also proposes the setting up of special courts to deal with child abuse and suggests sensitive ways to deal with crime against children.

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