Bail to school headmistress jailed under POCSO Act

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Thursday released on bail a Maharashtra school headmistress sentenced to 10 years of rigorous imprisonment (RI) under Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO Act and other Acts for abetting her school teacher in committing crimes on the students.

The Bench of Justices Ashok Bhushan and Navin Sinha heard arguments in part and suspended the remaining sentence awarded to her while summoning records of the trial court for further hearing on September 18.

Vanita Vasant Patil (56) of Mothi Jui ZP Primary School in Uran Taluka was sentenced as an abetter to school teacher Somnath Jadhav (43) raping and taking photographs of the students on his mobile with her direct collusion. Jadhav was also awarded 10 years of RI.

Rather, both were awarded 10 years of RI, five years of RI and one year of RI for various offences by the Additional Sessions Judge of Raigad-Alibagh, the sentences to run concurrently.

The sentences awarded on 28.10.2014 were upheld by the Bombay High Court on 02.11.2018 rejecting their appeal against conviction and also rejecting the government’s plea to enhance their sentences.

The headmistress came in appeal against the High Court verdict and her lawyers’ plea was that she had been falsely implicated in the crime committed by her school teacher.

The Apex Court released her on the terms and conditions to be fixed by the trial court after hearing both sides.

The case was registered by the Uran Police Station on 22.01.2013 on the complaint of a Class VIII student that she was playing in school with other students when the headmistress called her to clean the rice room next to her office and bolted the door from outside to let the school teacher remove her clothes and take her nude photos on his mobile and penetrated his penis into her private part when she refused to take it into her mouth. The girl was warned to be beaten like a dog if she disclosed it to anybody.

A similar incident happened after some days and the girl refusing to go to the same room once again infuriated the teacher to throw a duster at her. Her widow mother refused to lodge a complaint but the victim girl became emboldened to go to the police station on learning about a complaint already filed against the teacher by another student.

Both the culprit teacher, who had been harassing other girls in a similar fashion, and the headmistress abetting in his crime were finally arrested and brought to justice.

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