Mumbai: A special court designated under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act (POCSO) last Thursday sentenced a 75-year-old shopkeeper to three years of simple imprisonment for sexually harassing and assaulting a 11-year-old in 2016.
The septuagenarian had taken the defence that he was implicated due to vendetta as he had an altercation with the child’s mother as the child had banged on the glass of his fish tank and he had scolded the child. He also said that his house is adjoining where his wife and daughter of marriageable age were present during the alleged incident. He also questioned the delay of a day in filing the complaint.
Special judge Priti Kumar Ghule said in her judgement that the accused by connecting her name with that of his fish made her comfortable to interact. “Admittedly, the accused is of her grandfather’s age. The child will never imagine that she is unsafe with such an elderly man, with whom she is talking.”
The court considered his age and said that giving rigorous imprisonment to a man who is in his last span of life is harsh and decided to give simple imprisonment for three years with a fine of Rs 10,000. “Conviction of a senior citizen is sufficient to send a message to society at large for a deterrent effect on people who would try to take advantage of the innocence of children in solo,” judge Ghule said. The court also directed compensation to the child as she had to withstand cross-examination and the incident at the hands of the accused.
As per the prosecution case, the child was returning home around 5 pm after having snacks at a restaurant in Mahim along with her mother and elder sister. While her mother and sister were walking ahead of her, she stopped by to watch fish in a fish tank at the pet shop of the accused. The senior citizen had asked her name and told her that he has a fish by that name in his shop. The girl had then noticed a cat inside his outlet and told him she wanted to see it. He had asked her to come in. He had then touched her inappropriately on her private parts and moved his hands under her top. She had got frightened and fled to her mother. She told her mother only later that night after dinner about the ordeal. The complaint was filed the following day.