By VIVEK GUPTA
Preliminary investigation by Chandigarh Commission for the Protection of Child Rights has revealed that both the principal of the private school and bus contractor seem to have violated the Protection of Children from Sexual Offenses Act (POCSO Act) 2012 Act as they did not inform the police within 24 hours after knowing incident involving alleged sexually assault by a bus conductor on a five-year-old kindergarten student.
The commission is investigating whether they had wilfully withheld the information from the police. Both Sanjiv Kumar, principal of the Stepping Stones Senior Secondary School, Sector 38, and bus contractor Amrik Singh were questioned by the commission for over two hours on Friday in connection with the case that came in to light.
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As it emerged from their statements that after the parents complained to the school last week, the contractor, instead of reporting the matter to the police, slapped the conductor in front of the parents and promised to replace him at the earliest. The parents got agitated on finding the conductor again on the school bus on Monday, following which they again went to the school principal.
The principal told the commission that he immediately asked the parents to give him in writing about the incident, but they declined since they did not want the police case. “They came back to me on Wednesday with a written complaint and I immediately called the police, that resulted in action against the conductor”, the principal reportedly told the commission. However, he could not explain why he asked the parents to bring a medical report of the child and insisted on a written complaint when he was supposed to immediately inform the authorities after getting to know about the incident. “So far, it seems to be a case of delayed decision and dereliction of duty in violation of POCSO Act but we have yet not reached to a conclusion,” said chairperson Devi Sirohi. Neil Roberts, chairperson of the UT Child Welfare Committee, said that Section 19 of the POCSO Act holds the person who has the first knowledge of sexual abuse of a child as responsible for not informing police.