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Don’t call child witness to police station, visit house to record statement: Bombay HC tells cops

Don’t call child witness to police station, visit house to record statement: Bombay HC tells cops
Don't call child witness to police station, visit house to record statement: Bombay HC tells cops

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The Bombay High Court on Wednesday reprimanded the city police for repeatedly summoning a child witness to the police station for recording his statement in a case of alleged rape of his three-year-old class mate by the school’s trustee.

Justice Revati Mohite Dere expressed her anger saying that the police were defeating the purpose of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act by not adhering to the laid down procedures for probe into a case under the Act.

Justice Dere rapped the cops after coming to know that the police had summoned the child witness and his father to the police station to record their statements in the case of rape, allegedly committed last May by the trustee of an international school.

Irked by the information about summoning of the child witness, Justice Dere said, “If the police keep summoning children to police stations like this, the parents are naturally bound to feel that it was just adding to the trauma. It is very disturbing to note that the child and his father had to go to the police station on several occasions.”

“The Act is very clear on what procedure needs to be followed by the police while probing cases of such nature. Why were the child and his father called to the police station?” Justice Dere asked.

The whole purpose of the POCSO Act would be defeated if the police behave in such an ignorant manner, she said, adding that as per the Act, the police have to go to the residence of the child in civil clothes and record his or her statement.

Upset with the episode, Justice Dere ordered the police to submit to the court the case diary details, marking out how many times the boy and his father were called to the police station.

The court was informed about the repeated summoning of the victim’s class mate, a three-year-old boy, and his father by the counsel for the victim’s mother, who has moved the court challenging the grant of bail to the school trustee by the sessions court.

Appearing for the victim’s mother, her counsel Vijay Hiremath had apprised the court about repeated summoning of the child witness to the police station during the last hearing on the woman’s plea against the grant of bail to the French national.

Besides the victim’s mother, the parents of 42 other students from the school, located in suburban Andheri, had also moved the court seeking a direction to the trustee to stay away from the institution as they feared for the safety of their children.

The trustee, a French national, was arrested on November 7 last year, but was granted bail by the sessions court on November 24 last year. Following this, the victim’s mother had approached the high court for cancellation of his bail.

After hearing arguments on the victim’s mother plea, the court today reserved its order for April 2.

Senior counsel Shirish Gupte, appearing for the French trustee of the school, argued that his client had fallen victim to the school politics.

“He (trustee) has been managing the school for 25 years and has no criminal antecedents. There is a sinister motive behind this case,” Gupte argued.

The incident dates back to May last year, when the girl’s parents noticed changes in her behaviour, and difficulty in sitting and walking.

When they asked her if anyone had hurt her or touched her inappropriately, she pointed to a picture of the school trustee, the child’s mother said in the plea.

An FIR was subsequently lodged against the trustee in May last year. He, however, was arrested only in November after the victim’s parents filed a writ petition in the high court alleging the police inaction.

With PTI inputs

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