Bombay HC cancels bail of Andheri school trustee accused of sexually assaulting 3-year-old
The Bombay high court on Monday cancelled bail granted to the founder trustee of an international school in Andheri, who has been booked for “aggravated sexual assault” of a three-year-old kindergarten student.
The trustee, a French national, will have to surrender immediately before a special Pocso (Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act) court , as Justice Revati Mohite-Dere rejected his lawyer’s plea for some time to surrender. “Once I come to the conclusion that the order granting bail is perverse, there is no question of granting time to surrender to Respondent No. 1 [the trustee],” Mohite-Dere said, dismissing the request.
Acting on a plea filed by the mother of the kindergarten student, the court struck down the special Pocso court order of November 24, 2017, that had granted bail to the accused, on the grounds that the observations made by the special court were contrary to case records.
The special court had given bail to the school trustee saying that there was no incriminating evidence against him, and that he was neither named by the complainant in the First Information Report, nor in her statement recorded by a magistrate.The high court, however, found this observation contrary to record and said that “prima facie, there is sufficient evidence pointing towards complicity of Respondent No. 1”.
Mohite-Dere noted that the child had identified the trustee as the perpetrator of the crime through a photograph, and that all statements recorded by police were “consistent with the complicity of Respondent No. 1”.
Though the incident allegedly took place in late 2016, it came to light in May 2017, after the child’s parents noticed changes in her behaviour, and found she had difficulty in sitting and walking. When they asked her if anyone had hurt her or touched her inappropriately, she answered positively and identified the photograph of the founder trustee as the “boy teacher” who hurt her, the child’s mother said in her complaint.
On the basis of complaint filed by the mother, the MIDC police station registered an offence under relevant sections of the Indian Penal Code and Pocso Act. The trustee was arrested on November 7, 2017, after the child’s parents filed a writ petition in high court alleging police inaction; he was released on bail a fortnight later.