A Delhi court on Wednesday sentenced Sonu Punjaban to 24 years imprisonment for immoral trafficking of a 12-year old girl, saying a person who does such horrific and terrible acts has no right to live in a civilised society. Additional Sessions Judge Pritam Singh sentenced Sonu Punjaban to jail terms of 14 years for offences under the Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act and 10 years for other offences under the Indian Penal Code, including selling and buying of a minor girl for prostitution and criminal conspiracy, which will run separately.
The convict Geeta Arora alias Sonu Punjaban shall first undergo 14 years rigorous imprisonment for offence under sections of Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act, thereafter to undergo 10 years rigorous imprisonment for offences under sections 366A (procuration of minor girl), 372 (selling minor for purpose of prostitution), 373 (buying minor for purpose of prostitution), 328 (causing hurt by means of poison), 342 (wrongful confinement), 120B (criminal conspiracy) of IPC. Hence, the convict shall remain in custody (jail) for a total of 24 years as substantive sentence, the court said.
The court also sentenced co-accused Sandeep Bedwal to 20 years rigorous imprisonment for kidnapping, raping and selling the minor girl for prostitution.
It added that Bedwal shall undergo 10 years rigorous imprisonment for offence under section 363 (kidnapping), 366 (kidnapping, abducting or inducing woman to compel her marriage), 366A, 372, 120B of IPC and thereafter, he will undergo 10 years rigorous imprisonment for commission of offence under section 376 (rape) IPC.
Hence, the convict Sandeep Bedwal shall remain in custody (jail) for a total period of 20 years as substantive sentence, the court said.
The court further imposed fines of ₹64,000 and ₹65,000 on Punjaban and Bedwal, respectively.
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It also directed the Delhi Legal Services Authority to pay a compensation of ₹7 lakh to the girl.
It is well known that the victim of sexual offences not only faces mental and physical trauma but also subjected to social stigma and in most cases they have to change their residence which also causes financial losses to the victim or her family, it said in its order.
The court said that children were the future of a country and the future of a country depended on how it treated its children.
“In India thousands of children are kidnapped every year. Very few of them are recovered. Minor girls are kidnapped on the pretext of marriage to be sold in the flesh trade industry where they are sexually exploited on a daily basis.
“The subject case was also one of those cases where a minor innocent girl was trapped in the name of love and kidnapped in a pre-planned manner to force her into flesh trade,” the court said.
It further said that Punjaban had not only purchased the victim for prostitution but also brutalised her to make her surrender to her demands and had forcibly administered drugs to her.
“The modesty of a woman is next to her soul. How a woman can outrage and brutalise the modesty of another woman, who is a minor, in such a horrific way. The shameful deeds of convict Punjaban deprived her of any leniency from the courts.
“A person, irrespective of gender, who does such horrific and terrible acts, has no right to live in civilized society and for her the best place to live is the four boundaries of the jail. Punjaban crossed all the limits to be called a woman and deserved the severest punishment provided under the law,” the court noted.
The court had on July 16 convicted Punjaban for the offences under IPC sections 366A, 372, 373, 328, 370, 342, 120B, and relevant sections of the Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act.
It had also convicted Bedwal under sections 363, 366, 366A, 372, 120B, 376 and 370 (buying or disposing of any person as a slave) of IPC.
According to the prosecution, Bedwal had kidnapped the minor girl in 2009 on the pretext of marriage and raped her.
After that he sold her to a woman who forced the victim for prostitution and even gave drugs to her, the complaint said.
It further said that the girl was then sold several times to different people for the purpose of prostitution.
Finally, in 2014, she managed to escape from the house of a man who had bought her and married her. She went to a police station and on her statement the FIR was registered.
During the trial, Punjaban and Bedwal had claimed they were falsely implicated in the case.