Teacher-student affair passes SC test
If a student and a teacher fall in love with each other, it does not mean that the teacher has taken undue advantage of his official position, according to the Supreme Court.
Making this observation, the court on March 8 acquitted a teacher of a government school in Satna, Madhya Pradesh, who had been sentenced to two years rigorous imprisonment by a trial court for having sexual intercourse with a Class VII student in 1997.
Although the trial court had dismissed charges of rape against Omkar Prasad Verma after it was proved that the girl was not a minor and had consensual sex, it had found him guilty under Section 376B of the IPC. The section says that when a public servant takes advantage of his official position and seduces a woman who is in his "custody", such sexual intercourse, if it does not amount to rape, shall be punished with a maximum of five years of imprisonment and a fine.
Verma approached the Supreme Court after the Madhya Pradesh High Court dismissed his appeal.
Agreeing with the trial court that the accused was a public servant, a bench of justices SB Sinha and Markandey Katju, however, held that the girl could not be said to be in the ‘custody’ of the teacher. It interpreted ‘custody’ as a lawful custody under a statute or actual custody under a court’s order.
The Supreme Court said that for attracting Section 376B, sexual intercourse must take place where the victim was in custody. But in this case, the student had admitted that sexual intercourse did not take place in the school, the court said, acquitting the teacher.