More than two years after two minor boys in Ulhasnagar were tonsured, stripped and paraded with footwear around their necks, a special court Tuesday sentenced three men to two-year imprisonment.
The men were convicted under Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, Juvenile Justice Act and for voluntarily causing hurt. They were also directed to pay Rs 15,000 each to the two victims.
They were, however, acquitted of charges under the Information Technology Act and the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, which was invoked against them for a video they circulated after the children were stripped.
A grocery shopowner had claimed that on May 21, 2017, the two boys, aged nine and eight, had stolen a fried snack (chakli) from his shop. The Hill Line police claimed the owner, Mehmood Pathan (71), along with his sons Salim (24) and Irfan (28), had slapped the boys repeatedly, stripped them naked, got a barber to tonsure their heads and made them wear footwear around their necks. They were also paraded in their locality.
The local residents took videos of the incident and within hours, one of the videos was widely shared. The mothers of the boys, both domestic helps, were alerted about the incident by a neighbour. Based on their complaints, an FIR was filed and the three arrested.
While Mehmood was granted bail within three months, his sons remained in jail.
The Bombay High Court in October last year had refused bail to the two sons stating that it will lead to “unbearable trauma” and could lead to behavioural problems in the minor boys. However, since they have already spent more time in prison than their two-year sentence, the two are set to be released.
Mehmood, meanwhile, was granted bail on Tuesday to give him an opportunity to appeal his conviction.
Advocate Darshan Sawant, representing the accused, submitted that the police had not been able to prove that the video was seized as per the Indian Evidence Act. He claimed that the police had not proved who had taken the video or shared it. However, the three were found guilty under Prevention of Atrocities Act, under provisions pertaining to garlanding with footwear, parading naked and intentionally insulting a member of the Scheduled Castes.