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Friday, December 2, 2022

POCSO-accused couple sentenced to double life imprisonment in Lakshadweep

In two incidents involving the rape of minor girls in Lakshadweep, a couple was found guilty and condemned to a double life sentence by a special POCSO court in Kavaratti. Residents Moosa Kunnagothi (51) and his wife Noorjahan Bandaragothi (43) were jailed on Friday by special judge K Anil Kumar for raping two underage girls and filming the incident for pornographic purposes. 

Bandaragothi lured and abducted a young girl, illegally imprisoned her in their bedroom, and helped the first accused rape the girl. The minor girl was tempted and tortured by the promise of viewing television, and the rape footage was filmed and circulated. While Kunnagothi raped the minor, his wife Bandaragothi recorded the same on her mobile phone and distributed the same using social media. The initial event occurred in 2016. 

”A minor girl child was enticed and kidnapped by the second accused (Bandaragothi), unlawfully confined her inside her bedroom and abetted the first accused (Kunnagothi) in raping the girl. Accused persons had recorded the video of the rape scenes for pornographic purposes. The video clips were circulated in social media,” said the court.

Police filed a second case involving the kidnapping and rape of another minor girl after Bandaragothi confessed to the crime. This incident occurred in 2017. Both the victims were under the age of 12 when the crime occurred. 

As per the court order, the couple was convicted as per several articles of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act. The court sentenced Kunnagothi to 15 years of rigorous imprisonment. Additionally, it levied an Rs. 2,20,000 fine. Bandaragothi was handed 20 years of hard labor under the POCSO Act, numerous IPC clauses, and a fine of Rs 2,30,000.

For their involvement in the 2017 case, the court sentenced Bandaragothi to 15 years of harsh imprisonment and a fine of Rs. 2,25,000, while Kunnagothi was handed ten years of rigorous imprisonment and a fine of Rs. 2,15,000. The pedophile couple will end up paying roughly ₹ nine lakhs in penalties and spend a long time behind bars.

The victim’s parents had complained against the convicts. Though the island has a small population of around 65,000 and criminal cases are rare, sentencing in the case came after six long years since police registered the FIR. This conviction is also the first time in the island’s history that the accused were punished with double life sentences.

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