Minor Tribal Girls Abuse Scandal: Bombay HC Issues Ex Parte Directions To Police, Local Administration For Protection Of Victims [Read Order]
The Bombay High Court on Thursday issued ex parte directions in a petition mentioned before the bench of Justice ZA Haq and Justice Vinay Joshi of Nagpur, pointing out extreme urgency seeking reliefs on behalf of three minor tribal girls belonging to the 'Gond' and 'Pardhan' tribe classified as a Scheduled Tribe in Maharashtra.
The petitioners are the mothers of the girls allegedly abused at the Infant Jesus English Public High School, Rajura, Chandrapur district. The petitioners suspect that there are at least 18 such minor girls who have been abused. These girls are amongst 150 minor girls that are studying in the school and staying in accommodation provided by the school management. All of these girls are tribals.
The petitioners, who are labourers, got a message from the school where their daughters' study in Class V, VI and VII, saying that the girls were not well and had been admitted at a hospital run by one Dr. Katware in Rajpura. When they reached the spot, they found their girls in a semi-conscious state, completely disoriented. Thereafter, the doctor recommended that the girls should be taken to Chandrapur, which they were.
However, instead of being taken to a Government Medical College, they were taken to a private psychiatrist who informed the petitioners that their children were under fear psychosis and were unable to explain their trauma. This doctor then prescribed certain medicines and advised the petitioners to keep the girls at home and not send them to school.
Thereafter, when the girls complained of pain while passing urine, the petitioners suspected that they had been sexually abused. They went to the police station at Rajpura and then the police took the girls for a medical examination. But after the petitioners met Advocate Poornima Goswami, a social worker, they persuaded the Collector and Dean of the school a sonography was conducted and later an FIR was filed.
Committee Headed by Sessions Judge
At the very outset, the bench observed-
"Considering the nature of accusations made in the petition, we are of the view that certain immediate directions are required to be given in the matter."
Thus, the court set up an all-women's committee chaired by SS Ansari, Additional Sessions Judge & District Judge, Chandrapur, comprising of
(a) API, Women's Cell, Chandrapur
(b) Tahsildar, Chandrapur and
(c) Senior Gynecologist, Medical College, Chandrapur
Apart from this, following directions were passed to the local law enforcement and administration -
(i) The Collector, Chandrapur, and Superintendent of Police, Chandrapur, shall immediately take over the supervision of the Infant Jesus English Public High School, Rajura, and the premises where the girl students of the school are provided boarding. The Collector, Chandrapur, and Superintendent of Police, Chandrapur, shall not permit any private party, including the office bearers of the institutions, to interfere with the administration of the institutions.
(ii) The Collector, Chandrapur, shall ensure that the minor girls (inmates of the hostel) are not put to any inconvenience and shall take care of the daily needs like meals and other things from the state exchequer.
(iii) The Superintendent of Police, Chandrapur, shall ensure that no male member is permitted around the premises in question.
(iv) The Superintendent of Police, Chandrapur, shall further ensure that except any female Officer/employee granted permission in writing by the committee appointed by us, even any other female officer/employee shall not be permitted to enter the premises in question.
(v) The Superintendent of Police, Chandrapur, shall ensure compliance of Chapter VI of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act and the rules framed under it.
Finally, the court directed the committee to ensure that all necessary medical aid is provided to the victims and if the services of a psychiatrist are needed, it shall be made available at the cost of the State exchequer. The court noted: "We are conscious that interim order of such nature should not be normally passed exparte and without giving notice to the other side and the affected parties. But, looking to the nature of grievance and the number and status of the victims as alleged in the petition, we are passing this order exparte, with view to protect the minor victims."
Read the Order Here