Begin typing your search above and press return to search.
News Updates

Principal Had No Actual Control Over Children, Can't Be Prosecuted For Cruelty Under JJ Act If Teacher Beat Them Up: Bombay High Court

Sharmeen Hakim
7 March 2022 9:07 AM GMT
Principal Had No Actual Control Over Children, Cant Be Prosecuted For Cruelty Under JJ Act If Teacher Beat Them Up: Bombay High Court
x

The headmaster of a school cannot be prosecuted for cruelty under the Juvenile Justice Act (JJ Act) for a teacher's actions merely because he heads the institution in the absence of specific allegations of assault, connivance or wilful neglect on his part, the Bombay High Court's Nagpur bench held. Justice Avinash Gharote allowed the headmaster's writ petition and discharged him...

The headmaster of a school cannot be prosecuted for cruelty under the Juvenile Justice Act (JJ Act) for a teacher's actions merely because he heads the institution in the absence of specific allegations of assault, connivance or wilful neglect on his part, the Bombay High Court's Nagpur bench held.

Justice Avinash Gharote allowed the headmaster's writ petition and discharged him of offences under Section 75 of the JJ Act (punishment for cruelty to child).

The court rejected the prosecution's contention that the headmaster was liable because he was the head of the institution and thus had overall control over the children wherein a dance teacher had beaten a child with an iron rod during practice, causing injuries.

The court observed that the allegations were attributable only to the dance teacher and not to headmaster as the girls were in the actual charge and control of the dance teacher.

"The applicant has merely been roped in, for the reason he is the head of the institution where the alleged incident happened which in fact, is directly attributable to the dance teacher Manish Haribhau Raut. None of the statements of the witnesses, recorded by the police authorities, indicate, that the applicant was ever having charge of or control over the children and all those statements consistently record that the actual charge or control over the children was that of the dance teacher Manish Haribhau Raut."

Facts of the Case

The Headmaster was initially booked by the Nagpur police under sections 324 read with 34 and section 75 of the JJ Act. He approached the sessions in a revision application after a Magistrate's court refused to discharge him. While the sessions court discharged him under section 324 and 34 it upheld his prosecution under section 75 of the JJ Act.

It was against the Sessions court's order that the headmaster – Anurag Pandey – approached the Bombay High Court though advocate Tejas Deshpande in a writ petition.

Section 75 of the JJ Act that prescribes punishment for cruelty to child states that whoever, having the actual charge of, or control over, a child, assaults, abandons, abuses, exposes or wilfully neglects the child… to cause such child unnecessary mental or physical suffering, shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term which may extend to three years or with fine of one lakh rupees or with both.

According to the second proviso "if such offence is committed by any person employed by or managing an organisation, which is entrusted with the care and protection of the child, he shall be punished with rigorous imprisonment which may extend up to five years, and fine which may extend up to five lakhs rupees."

The bench said that in the present context, when Section 75 of the JJ Act, 2015 is a penal provision providing punishment for cruelty to the child, the expression "actual charge of, or control over" a child, would necessarily have to be construed in a strict sense. "In the present facts of the case, the expression has necessarily to mean that the children were under the actual charge or control of a person and not otherwise."

Regarding the second proviso, the bench observed "when it relates to an organisation, it makes a person employed by or managing such organisation guilty of the offence. However, only if such person employed by or managing the organisation was the person who had committed the acts as contemplated by Section 75 of the JJ Act."

The bench observed that it was an it was an admitted position that the children were in the dance class being conducted by the dance teacher and headmaster of the institution was nowhere near the said class. Neither any action of any assault had been attributed to him, nor is there any allegation that the applicant had connived with the said act in any manner whatsoever.

"It is thus apparent, that the applicant, would not fall within the meaning of the expression "whoever having actual charge of, or control over", nor is the second proviso to Section 75 of the J.J. Act, attracted vis-a-vis the present applicant, in view of which, the provisions of Section 75 would clearly not be attracted," the bench observed while setting aside the sessions court's order and discharging the headmaster.

Appearances- Tejas Deshpande, Advocate for petitioner.

A. R. Chutke, APP for respondent/State.

Case Title: Anurag s/o Jamnashankar Pandey Vs. State of Maharashtra

Citation: 2022 LiveLaw (Bom) 70

Click Here To Read/Download Order


Next Story