MUMBAI: The Bombay High Court bench of Justices Nitin Jamdar and Chandrakant Bhadang, earlier this month upheld the life term of a Bhandup-based school teacher, convicted for raping a four-year-old student. The bench said that the offence committed by the teacher would imperil the trust of parents in schools and would have a larger impact on the society.
The bench was hearing a plea filed by the 37-year-old challenging his conviction and punishment imposed on him by a special Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) court in June 2017.
The male teacher was booked for sexually assaulting the survivor in the school's toilet in December 2014.
The victim in her statement to the police and her own grandmother had said that she was sexually assaulted by "Chhote Sir" of the school.
The teacher in his defence, claimed that no one in the school called him as "Chhote Sir" and infact it was the school's principal, who was often called so. He claimed that the principal's father, the trustee of the school was called as "Bade Sir".
He accordingly, argued that there is a mistake in identifying the perpetrator.
However, the bench after going through the evidence on record, noted that none called the principal as "Chhote Sir". The judges also noted that the special judge during the trial had made the victim girl sit in her laps and specifically pointed towards the accused. The girl had recognised him as "Chhote Sir" and later got uncomfortable and asked her grandmother present in the courtroom to take her back home.
The bench considered the behaviour of the victim girl and concluded that there was no error in identifying the accused.
The teacher in his defence further claimed that he was falsely implicated in the case as certain persons were against the school.
Having gone through the material on record, the bench said, "It is not possible that mother and grandmother of the child would stake the life of a four-year-old child for the benefit of the residents of the locality or for those who were inimical with the management of the school."
The judges further said, "An innocent four-year-old child has become a victim of accused's lust shows his grave mental depravity. This incident will have a devastating effect on the child’s psychological and emotional well-being."
The bench further said that there is scientific evidence that such sexual assault at a very young age get embedded in the subconscious, manifesting in numerous negative cognitive developments and disorders in adulthood.
"The child was in the care of the school and of the accused. The crime committed by him will imperil the faith with which parents entrust their toddlers to the school authorities, affecting the years of good work by schools and teachers, thus having wider consequences on society at large," the bench said.
"Considering the age of the child, the grave depravity and ramification of the crime, maximum punishment as imposed is entirely justified," the judges added.