Man dressed at Santa sanitises a BEST bus.
Man dressed at Santa sanitises a BEST bus.
Bhushan Koyande

A 50-year-old BrihanMumbai Electric Supply and Transport (BEST) bus conductor was sentenced to one year of rigorous imprisonment for repeatedly asking a 13-year-old schoolgirl, who was returning home from classes by bus one afternoon, if she knew anything about sex and sexually harassing her.

The special court designated under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act found him guilty for the offence of sexual harassment under the Act and another offence under the Indian Penal Code (IPC). It imposed a fine of Rs 20,000 on him. Special Judge Bharti Kale directed that, of the fine amount, Rs 15,000 be paid to the minor.

Special Public Prosecutor Geeta Sharma said the incident took place on June 24, 2018. The schoolgirl was returning from her scholarship classes in the afternoon. The man had checked her bus pass and then sat beside her. Only a few commuters were in the bus at the time and were at a distance. He asked her if she knew anything about sex. She told him not to ask such questions. He had gone to the front, returned and repeated the behaviour.

The incident had come to light when the child had refused to take the bus home when her mother had been to the bus stop drop her. The minor’s friend, in whom she had confided about the incident, had told the mother about it when asked. The mother had then enquired with her daughter and approached Nehru Nagar police station after the child had recognised the man at the Kurla bus depot and pointed him out to her mother.

The man was on bail. Upon a plea after he was sentenced, the court suspended his sentence for 30 days so that he can appeal against the decision.

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