Updated: July 23, 2020 9:31:44 pm
Geeta Arora alias Sonu Punjaban, accused of trafficking a 12-year-old girl for prostitution, was awarded a 24 year-prison sentence by a Delhi court. This is the first time that the 35-year-old has been convicted in a case.
While passing the judgment, the court observed that she “has no right to live in a civilised society” and “crossed all limits to be called a woman and deserves severest punishment provided under the law”. The court also noted that Punjaban is a habitual offender and asked her to pay a fine of Rs 64,000.
The minor girl was initially kidnapped by co-accused Sandeep Bedwal (41), who was also convicted and sentenced to 20 years in jail. The court asked Bedwal to pay Rs 65,000 as fine. While sentencing the duo, the court said the minor was sexually exploited for three-four years at the hands of several offenders, and if Sandeep had not kidnapped her, “perhaps the ordeal would not have happened”.
But after that, Bedwal sold the minor to Punjaban, who confined the girl, administered drugs to incapacitate her, and sold her for prostitution. After keeping her for 3-4 months, the minor was then sold to her associate, Lala from Lucknow.
Additional Sessions Judge Pritam Singh observed that Punjaban “not only purchased a victim for prostitution but she also brutalised her to make her surrender to her demands. She forcibly administered drugs to the victim so that she could not resist a customer… 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 Geeta Arora alias Sonu Punjaban deprives 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 civilised society and for her the best place to live is within the four boundaries of the jail. The convict crossed all the limits to be called a woman and deserves severest punishment provided under the law.”
Punjaban’s husband was murdered and since then she looked after her minor son, her 60-year-old mother and her HIV-positive brother. She has already been in custody for over two years. Pointing these things out, her lawyer, R M Tufail, had urged the court to grant her leniency.
In 2014, a Delhi court had acquitted Punjaban, who was charged under stringent provisions of the Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA). She was charged with two specific allegations “in the nature of organised crime” and, therefore, had charged her under MCOCA.
In April 2011, Delhi Police had nabbed Punjaban after they received a tip-off that she and her associates had been spotted pimping women. Police deployed two officers, who posed as customers and laid the trap. The officers then struck a deal with the tout, Raju Sharma, and Punjaban for two girls. Police then arrested Punjaban, her four associates and four other men during a raid in Mehrauli.
According to the police, the four women who accompanied Arora were identified as school dropouts. She (Arora) likes a lavish lifestyle, therefore, she entered the prostitution racket. She started on her own, but later formed a group of aspiring models and actresses. She hired a large number of pimps for transportation and logistics. She used to source aspiring models and sex workers from different states. Even her clientele was from different states, mainly consisting of regular customers, said a senior police officer.
Punjaban was earlier arrested twice from Preet Vihar and Saket, before she was charged with MCOCA in 2011. In 2007, she was held under sections of the Immoral Traffic Prevention Act. While she got bail in the 2007 case, she was arrested for the same offence in 2008.
When she was arrested in April 2011, as part of the Mehrauli raid, she had already been booked for the same offence twice — which is one of the preconditions for invoking MCOCA. Punjaban is also allegedly involved in a murder case in Haryana’s Jhajjhar district, police said.
Arora is known to have close links with the underworld as well. She is the wife of slain gangster Hemant, who was killed in a shootout in April 2006. Earlier, she was married to Vijay and Deepak, Hemant’s elder brothers, who were also killed in different shootouts.
📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines