The High Court of Bombay recently rejected the bail application of a school van driver accused of sexually abusing a six year old girl within the school premises.
While considering the validity of the submission that the teacher as well as the school authorities had no knowledge of the incident, the Court took into account an email sent to the school authorities by the victim’s father. It then went on to observe that there existed “no reason for the first informant to falsely implicate the applicant at the cost of dignity, honour and reputation of her daughter.”
The charge-sheet filed against the accused was for offences punishable under Sections 376 (2) (i) (punishment for rape), 323 (punishment for voluntarily causing hurt), 354 (assault or criminal force to woman with intent to outrage her modesty), and 506 (ii) (punishment for criminal intimidation) of the Indian Penal Code, and Sections 4 (punishment for penetrative sexual assault), 8 (punishment for sexual assault), and 12 (punishment for sexual harassment) of Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012.
The accused had, however, denied the allegations, and contended that he had been falsely implicated. His lawyers had averred that neither had the Police recorded the statement of the teacher in whom the victim had first confided, nor had the CCTV cameras in the area caught any such incident.
Refusing to accept such contentions, Justice Sadhana S. Jadhav observed, “…however, E-mail sent by father of the victim is a clear indication that the school has failed to take any action and in order to save their reputation has denied the knowledge about the said incident.”
She relied on Section 29 and 30 of the POCSO Act, to note that the burden of proof is reversed under this legislation, for certain offences. The accused is, therefore, presumed to be guilty, unless proven innocent. It thereafter rejected the bail application.
Read the Judgment here.