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Inaction over sexual abuse complaint: Archbishop of Bombay moves HC to withdraw case

Cardinal Oswald Gracias and the two others are facing charges of inaction over a sexual abuse complaint against a priest.

mumbai Updated: Jun 20, 2019 00:50 IST
Yesha Kotak
Yesha Kotak
Hindustan Times
mumbai,Bombay high court,roman catholic church
The bench of justices Ranjit More and Bharati Dangre, who heard the plea on June 17, have posted the matter for hearing at a later date. (Representational photo)

The Archbishop of Bombay and two bishops recently filed an application in the Bombay high court (HC) to get a child abuse case, in which they are named as co-accused, withdrawn. Cardinal Oswald Gracias and the two others are facing charges of inaction over a sexual abuse complaint against a priest.

In 2015, the parents of the minor boy had filed a complaint at Shivaji Nagar police station, claiming that their son had been sexually abused by a priest, Lawrence Johnson. In February, the boy’s parents approached the special Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POSCO) Act court hearing the case, stating that Gracias had ignored their complaint. They said that Gracias did not report the matter to the police.

They also asked for the other two bishops to be named as co-accused in the case. The POCSO court directed the police to look into the allegations. Following this, the three clerics were named in a first information report (FIR) registered by the Shivaji Nagar police earlier this month.

The accused were booked under section 21 of the POSCO Act which requires mandatory reporting of child sexual abuse cases. “The police registered a case against the accused on the directions of the POCSO court,” said an officer from the Shivaji Nagar police station.

The three have now moved HC against the lower court’s order. Jayant Bardeskar, counsel for the accused, said, “It will be premature to comment on what grounds we are moving the plea. All I can say is that we have filed a petition against the order of the lower court.” Gracias, who is currently in Germany, was unavailable for a comment. His spokesperson said he wasn’t aware of the matter.

The bench of justices Ranjit More and Bharati Dangre, who heard the plea on June 17, have posted the matter for hearing at a later date.

First Published: Jun 20, 2019 00:43 IST