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Supreme Court upholds acquittal of BSF commandant in J&K sex scandal case

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The Supreme Court on Tuesday dismissed an appeal filed by the premier investigating agency against the acquittal of a BSF personnel by the Punjab and Haryana High Court who was convicted and sentenced to-undergo 10 years of rigorous imprisonment with fine of Rs one lakh in the infamous ‘J&K sex scandal case,’ allegedly involving inducement and blackmail of teenage girls.

The three-Judge Bench of Justice A.M. Khanwilkar, Justice Abhay S. Oka and Justice C.T. Ravikumar noted that the prosecution has miserably failed to establish the manner of entry of the Prosecutrix along with PW-45 in a high security zone area, where accused no 6 (Commandant K.C. Padhi) was residing with his family. Neither the auto-rickshaw in which she travelled up to the high security campus, where the accused no 6 was residing had been identified, nor the statement of driver of the auto-rickshaw was recorded by the investigating agency. 

The Court noted, This appeal takes exception to the judgement and order date… passed by the High Court of Punjab and Haryana by which Respondent- Accused No 6 came to be acquitted of the offence of which he was tried. The trial court had convicted him and sentenced him to undergo 10 years of rigorous  imprisonment with fine of Rs one lakh. When the matter was carried in appeal, the High Court discussed the entire evidence concerning the Respondent-Accused no 6.

The High Court noted several aspects of the case and conclusively held that the Respondent was falsely implicated in the case. The reasons recorded by the High Court are exhaustive and commend to us. It is rightly notes by the High Court that the prosecution has miserably failed to establish the manner of entry of the Prosecutrix along with PW-45 in a high security zone area where accused no 6 was residing with his family. Neither the auto-rickshaw in which she travelled upto the high security campus  where accused no 6 was residing had been identified nor the statement of driver of the auto-rickshaw was recorded by the investigating agency.  

As Pw- 1 in her statement has mentioned that when standing outside the gate, a phone call was made from an STD booth but the investigating agency have not recorded statement of the owner of the STD booth .

Similarly, the white gypsy that Pw-1 claims to have entered the campus with 2 gunmen who accompanied her to the residence of Accused  no 6, neither the vehicle has been identified not the statement of driver and the 2 gunmen has been recorded by the investigating officer.

Moreover, the cook working with accused no 6 at his residence has not been examined by the investigating officer. It is the Accused no 6 who presented him as the defence witness. The high court has also rightly taken not of the fact that Pw- 45 who was allegedly accompanied by PW-1 to the residence of Accused  no 6 has turned hostile.

Notably, the crucial evidence regarding the visitor registers and all the guards at the main gate has also not been identified. Also, their statement have never been recorded by the investigating officer.

The involvement of Accused no 6 came to light only in the third statement of Pw-1 recorded by the investigating agency. There are other tangible reasons noted by the High Court to finally conclude that Respondent- Accused no 6 was falsely implicated in the case. 

The Court said, “We have carefully gone through the relevant record including the oral evidence and the so called discovery memo heavily relied by the ld. counsel for the appellant.

We are at a loss to understand as to how the said document can be described as discovery memo recorded under section 27 of the Evidence Act at the instance of the victim.  It is cardinal that Section 27 of the Act … in respect of statement or disclosure made by the accused and the manner and to the extent it can be relied upon.

In our opinion the reasons recorded by the High Court for allowing the appeal…. No interference against order of acquittal is warranted in the facts and situation of the present case. accordingly this appeal fails. Dismissed.”

The present appeal filed by the CBI against the order of the Punjab and Haryana High Court which had set aside the judgment of conviction and sentence awarded to BSF Commandant KC Padhi by Trial Court and acquitted him of his charges of his involvement in the infamous J&K sex scandal case including charge under Section 376 of Ranbir Penal Code while holding the conviction of other 4 accused.

The accused, KC Padhi was posted as BSF Commandant (Operations) at Humhama Camp, Srinagar.

As alleged against him, he had raped two girls brought to him by Sabeena (the alleged pimp and one of the accused) at BSF Camp and then transported to his house following a call made to him by Sabeena from a STD booth outside the camp.

However, the court following stances, found merit in the contentions raised by KS Padhi in his defence for the following reasons-

-That the girls (PW1 and PW45) stated in the identification of accused of he being a fat man whereas he was not the one.

-That PW45 on examination, refrained from her statement made to the police and further denied any acquaintance with KS Padhi or Sabeena and stated that she had signed the statement under CBI’s coercion.

-That further there were no cogent circumstantial evidence established against the accused rather all went in his favour.

– That he did not have any criminal antecedents.

– That Talukdar who is a prosecution witness witness in the case posted alongwith the accused mentioned the very fact that no lady ever visited his house except that of his wife and 2 daughters.

-That he was attacked on 2 occasions on his return from trial by militants and that he was also awarded with President’s Police Medal in 2005 for his exceptional bravery.

Thus with many more contexts highlighted the court had to accept this quotient that using feeble shoulders of the stated victims as a pedestal, some organisations are trying to settle there own agendas against para military forces thus referring to CBI in its statement. Hereafter, acquitting the accused of its charges.

The court further directed taking stance of the case State of Punjab vs Gurmit Singh the Registrar General to circulate the guidelines for refraining to put up any lewd questions before the victims of sexual assault as was done with the prosecutrix in this case.

J&K sex scandal

The case has its genesis in an FIR registered on March 14, 2006, at the Shaheed Ganj police station in Srinagar district under Section 67 of the Information Technology Act, with the allegation that a fruit vendor received a pornographic clip of a girl belonging to the vicinity.

Case Name- Central Bureau of Investigation vs K.C. Padhi 

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