Terming Panvel-based orphanage Kalyani Mahila Bal Seva Sanstha as a ‘Horror House’, the prosecution pleaded to the sessions court on Wednesday that the case, where handicapped and mentally-challenged minors had been physically and sexually abused by their ‘caretakers’, be categorised as ‘rarest of the rare’.
Special public prosecutor Rohini Salian, while demanding the maximum quantum of punishment for all the accused, sought death penalty for Ramchandra Karanjule, 52, founder of the orphanage.
According to the prosecution, Karanjule set up the orphanage in 2006 with the help of his nephew Nanabhau, 30, and his wife Surekha, 43. The prosecution alleged that Karanjule along with the other accused had been physically and sexually abusing the mentally-challenged girls since 2007 till 2011 when the case came to light in February 2011, after Neela Tulpule, chairperson of the Child Welfare Committee (Raigad) carried out a preliminary investigation.
The court observed that Karanjule had committed a heinous crime as well as had misrepresented before the government to set up the institute, misused its office and earned money from the donations received for the orphanage.
The court also found Khandu Kasbe alias Deepak Mayekar, 37, friend of Ramchandra and Prakash Khadke, 38, office bearer of the orphanage guilty of rape. Badade and Malve have also been convicted. The court acquitted Surekha and their daughter Kalyani, 24, for lack of evidence. Two others, Dhirubhai Limbani, 49, and Narendra Mehta, 56, were also acquitted.
Rashmi Karandhikar, the then ACP (traffic), Bhiwandi, appointed to investigate the case, said she was happy with the verdict. She added they might consider challenging the acquittal of some of the accused before the high court.