HC grants bail to Anju Shah
THE INDORE bench of MP High Court comprising Justice S C Vyas has granted bail to the suspended Superintendent of the local Women Rescue Home Anju Shah on the ground that the offence punishable under Section 376 (2) of IPC, that is, sexual act by a public servant with a woman in custody, cannot be made out against her.
The Judge observed that prima facie, she could not be held guilty considering that she is a woman who has breast cancer. The court added that she deserves to be released on bail, as besides being a cancer patient, her daughter is deaf and dumb.
The HC order has put the administration and police in the dock and has unraveled their insensitivity and lack of knowledge while framing charges against a class II woman official who was holding additional charge of the Home when two major incidents occurred.
Seven inmates escaped from the Home on September 17, 2005, and within 48 hours, on September 19, a mentally challenged inmate Leela died.
Anju was suspended on March 13, 2006, following her arrest on February 25, 2006, in connection with Leela’s death. Ironically, she was booked on the findings of a SDM inquiry report (a copy of which is with the Hindustan Times) that declared the Home cook Asha Alat and her husband Arun to be the main culprits instead of Shah.
The Home’s old staffers including gynaecologist Dr K Raisinghani, teachers Gangu Samse and Pramila Paneri, clerk Nishi Arora, sanitation employees Sadhana, Shankuntala and Anita Reval, and guard Ramkishen, whose statements were recorded in the report by SDM Nilay Satbhaiyya have denied possibility of rape or physical assault taking place at the Home.
On the contrary, they have charged the Alat couple with helping the seven women to escape and have gone on record to say that male friends of some escapees were sighted at the couple’s residential quarter located in the Home compound.
Besides helping women to escape by taking money from their male friends, Alalts have been charged with stealing ration supplied at the Home, serving rich food to seven women and boiled meals to mentally deranged inmates. Yet no action has been take against the couple so far.
The SDM report said that seven inmates fled from Home after tossing chili powder into Asha’s eyes. The escapees tied her hands, took out the keys of channel gate and made good their escape. The investigations only found a pinch of powder lying near the chullah. Had the women thrown chili powder, it would have scattered all over the kitchen. Besides, Asha’s hands were tied so loosely that she unshackled it after some time.
As for Leela’s death, there are major slips in the investigation. The post-mortem report said that she was gang raped which later was changed to rape. Medical experts on condition of anonymity said there are fair chances of post-mortem report being manipulated and gang rape cannot be confirmed without DNA test.
They said that it is quite a possibility that Leela died of head injury when she slipped while coming out of bathroom. The claim that the rape took place at the Home is also dubious because a number of police and administrative officials visited the Home during the 48 hours (September 17-19) to inquire into escape of seven inmates.
Could rapists dare to sneak in the place that was under high vigilance and even if they did what were the police and administration doing?
Now that she has been bailed out, Shah has submitted an application to Divisional Commissioner Ashok Das with an appeal to withdraw the suspension order and re-instate her.
District Collector Vivek Aggarwal said that administration would look into the shortcomings, if any, in the SDM’s report and would act accordingly.