Delhi Police Tuesday sought maximum punishment of life imprisonment for filmmaker Mahmood Farooqui, who has been held guilty of raping a research scholar from the United States in Delhi last year, and said he had brought “disrepute to the country”. Police added that since he “occupies high status in the society”, there was “an additional responsibility on him not to conduct himself in a such a manner”.
Arguing before Additional Sessions Judge Sanjeev Jain, police said the foreign national was raped by “a friend she trusted”. The court will pronounce the quantum of sentence Thursday. “The foreigner was here for research work but was raped by a person she knew, who was her friend and whom she had trusted. This court must keep in mind that there was an additional vulnerability of the woman in a foreign country and it brought disrepute to our country, besides traumatising the victim… The offence of rape affects the morale of society and should be strictly dealt with. He should be awarded life imprisonment,” said advocate Vrinda Grover, counsel for the complainant.
She added, “He is a prominent figure in cultural world and occupies a high status in society. Therefore, there was additional responsibility on him to not conduct himself in such a manner… The intent of the legislature is clear regarding the offence of rape and the severity of punishment.” The woman’s counsel also sought compensation from Farooqui, stating that his act “had not only caused trauma in her life but had also disrupted her research work”. Referring to the notification of the Ministry of Home Affairs, the counsel said a minimum compensation of Rs 3 lakh should be given as per the new Central government guidelines on victim compensation.
However, Farooqui’s defence counsel argued that the court should award minimum punishment of seven years rigorous imprisonment and that police “have to show special aggravating circumstances in the case to seek life imprisonment”. “Aggravating circumstances like the brutality or violence on part of the convict is absent in this case. He is not a habitual offender. This court should award the minimum sentence of seven years,” said Farooqui’s counsel, Nitya Ramakrishnan.
The defence also vehemently opposed the prosecution argument about “additional vulnerability” of the victim on being a foreigner. “Does the law put any foreigner on a pedestal higher than an Indian? This fact is irrelevant and makes a mockery of thousands of Indian women who suffer,” said Ramakrishnan.
The defence added, “The conduct of the convict during the trial should be considered… Expression of remorse itself is a mitigating circumstance in this case. The woman has never been intimidated by him during the stage of trial… He has a family to support. He has bipolar disorder… Reformation should not be ruled out while awarding the sentence.”
Farooqui, co-director of the 2010 satirical comedy Peepli (Live) and an exponent of the centuries’ old art of Urdu storytelling called Dastangoi, was accused of raping the 30-year-old research scholar from Columbia University at his home in south Delhi’s Sukhdev Vihar on March 28, 2015.
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