Peepli Live co-director Mahmood Farooqui was sentenced to seven years rigorous imprisonment for raping a research scholar from the United States. The Delhi High court also imposed a fine of Rs. 50,000. Failure to pay the fine would earn the filmmaker an extra three months of imprisonment.
According to an Indian Express report, the complainant sought maximum punishment, which entails life imprisonment. Advocate Vrindha Grover, counsel for the complainant said, “The offence of rape affects the morale of society and should be strictly dealt with. He should be awarded life imprisonment”.
However, the defense attorney, Nitya Ramakrishnan, argued that a life imprisonment is granted only on grounds of “aggravating circumstances”. She said, “Aggravating circumstances like the brutality or violence on the 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”. The defense also added that conduct of the accused during the trial should be taken into consideration. “The woman has never been intimidated by him during the stage of trial,” she said.
Just a few days before the trial, a Delhi-based writer named Rama Lakshmi, broke her silence on this issue. An associate of both, the victim and the perpetrator, she shared her views on Facebook. Rama had the opportunity to work closely with the director for more than five years. She called him an “intellectually sharp man and a creative powerhouse”. Meanwhile, she also knew the American researcher who accused Farooqui of raping her. Talking about the victim’s side of the story, she said, “Her impulse behind filing the FIR was simple – she had to act. Silence was not a choice”.
Mahmood Farooqui, raped a 35-year-old American woman at his residence in Delhi in March 2015. She was in Varanasi for research work on her doctoral thesis at Columbia University. She was introduced to Farooqui by her friend. She filed a complaint on 19 June, leading to his arrest.
Feature image courtesy: India Today