Gauhati High Court 'Shocked' By Bail Granted To Hostel Warden Accused Of Sexually Abusing 21 Children; Suo Motu Cancels Bail

Udit Singh

21 July 2023 2:51 PM GMT

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  • Gauhati High Court Shocked By Bail Granted To Hostel Warden Accused Of Sexually Abusing 21 Children; Suo Motu Cancels Bail

    The HC criticised the Special POCSO Court for granting bail to the accused and stressed on the need to sensitise judges handling POCSO Cases.

    The Gauhati High Court on Friday, suo moto cancelled the bail granted by the trial court to the Hostel Warden of a Government Residential School in Arunachal Pradesh who is alleged to have sexually assaulted 21 children (15 girls and 6 boys), aged 6 to 12 years from 2019 to 2022.The Court took registered suo moto cancellation of bail application on the basis of the news articles published in...

    The Gauhati High Court on Friday, suo moto cancelled the bail granted by the trial court to the Hostel Warden of a Government Residential School in Arunachal Pradesh who is alleged to have sexually assaulted 21 children (15 girls and 6 boys), aged 6 to 12 years from 2019 to 2022.

    The Court took registered suo moto cancellation of bail application on the basis of the news articles published in two newspapers, namely, “Purvanchal Prahari” and “The Arunachal Times”, regarding grant of bail to the accused named Yumken Bagra, Hostel Warden of the Government Residential School, Karo Village, Monigong, Shi Yomi District in Arunachal Pradesh.

    The single judge bench of the Chief Justice Sandeep Mehta remarked:

    “The conscience of the Court has been shaken by the way in which a case of such grave magnitude and sensitive nature has been dealt with in an absolutely cavalier fashion by granting bail to the main accused without assigning any plausible reasons. The larger issue which bothers the mind of the Court is regarding safety of the victims of the ghastly act of sexual assault after the release of the accused on bail.”

    The accused was charged under Sections 10, 12, 14(1), 15(1), 2 of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012 (POCSO Act) for allegedly committing sexual assault upon 21 children (all less than 15 years of age).

    The charge-sheet reflected that the accused Warden forced the children staying as boarders in the Hostel to watch pornographic movies and repeatedly subjected them to sexual assault.

    The Court noted that the medical reports of most of the victims corroborates the fact that they were sexually assaulted as marks of violence were noticed on their private parts.

    However, the Special Judge, POCSO Act Cases, Yupia, Arunachal Pradesh granted bail to the accused vide order dated February 02, 2023.

    The High Court noted:

    “Since the offence under Section 376AB of the IPC has also been applied in the case, by virtue of Section 439(1A) of the Cr.PC it is mandatory to ensure presence of the informant or any person authorized by him at the time of hearing of the application for bail. However, perusal of the bail order dated 23.02.2023 would reveal that the Special Court acted in gross disregard to this mandatory provision.”

    Before the Special Court, the Special Public Prosecutor (SPP), Arunachal Pradesh, objected to the prayer for grant of bail stating that this was a third successive bail application on the same ground. The SPP also opposed the bail application on the ground that releasing the accused on bail would prejudice the prosecution case as the accused holds the capacity to influence the witnesses and tampering the evidence, which was yet to be recorded.

    The High Court bench observed:

    “However, the Special Court, without giving due consideration to these substantial objections of the learned Special Public Prosecutor, Arunachal Pradesh, granted bail to the accused in an absolutely casual manner despite observing that the statements of the victims reveal a grave offence having been committed but the trial was yet to begin due to non-appearance of the co-accused Daniel Pertin.”

    “Absolutely flimsy reasons were assigned by the Special Court for granting bail to the accused who being the Hostel Warden, was entrusted the duty of ensuring the safety of the children lodged in the Hostel acted in a demonic manner and sexually assaulted the young children over a period of almost 3(three) years and also exposed them to pornographic material. The trial of an accused charge-sheeted for such serious offences need not wait for the apprehension of the absconding accused and proceedings can even be continued by separating the trials”, the Court said.

    Thus, the Court directed to issue notice of the bail cancellation proceedings to the accused.

    The Court further directed the Advocate General of Arunachal Pradesh to forthwith instruct the Director General of Police, Arunachal Pradesh to put in place full security measures for all victims and their family members and strict adherence shall be made of under the Witness Protection Scheme, 2018.

    The Court also directed the Advocate General to apprise the Court regarding the steps taken by the State of Arunachal Pradesh for giving protection to minor victims of sexual assault, across the State of Arunachal Pradesh.

    “Considering the tenor of the order passed by the learned Special Judge, this Court feels that there is an emergent need of sensitizing the Special Judges posted in the POCSO Courts across the States of Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Mizoram and Assam. Thus, the Director, Judicial Academy, Assam shall forthwith initiate the process for training and sensitizing of all Judicial Officers dealing with POCSO Act cases in the States of Assam, Nagaland, Mizoram and Arunachal Pradesh,” the Court noted.

    Case Title: XXX v. In Re-State of Arunachal Pradesh and 2 Ors.

    Citation: 2023 LiveLaw (Gau) 73

    Coram: The Chief Justice Sandeep Mehta

    Click Here to Read/Download Order

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