COMING down hard on the police for summoning to the police station a four-and-a-half year-old boy who was sexually assault allegedly on his school premises, the Bombay High Court Wednesday said it was a “sorry state of affairs” that law enforcers were unaware of provisions of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act. The court directed the deputy commissioner of police of the region to remain present at the next hearing.
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Public prosecutor Sandeep Shinde informed the court that an arrest had been made in the case, and the police would go to meet the child in plain clothes instead of summoning him, as required under the POCSO Act.
“This is a very sorry state of affairs. The police is not aware of the provisions of POCSO Act,” said Justice Ranjit More, adding, “What action have you taken against the officers? Look at the plight and how they are treating the child. Make sure the DCP is present in court.” Shinde said the police would submit investigations papers in the matter during the hearing next Wednesday. “We will inform the court about the action taken by the police and the school management, besides specifying where exactly the incident took place,” he said.
A division bench of Justice Ranjit More and Justice Revati-Mohite Dere was hearing a petition filed by the boy’s mother, seeking action against the police for issuing the summons in violation of the POCSO Act. The petition also sought that the case be transferred to a special juvenile unit of the police.
The petition claims that the boy was sexually assaulted within the school premises in Navi Mumbai by an employee of the school. The parents filed a police complaint in August 2016.
The child was called to the police station on two occasions for recording his statement and for an identification parade.
The counsel for the school, meanwhile, said they were fully cooperating with the police in the investigations, but denied the incident took place within the school premises.
“We do not know what action has been taken by the police. The registration of the offence is against unknown persons. Unless we know that the person is working in the school we cannot suspend any staff member,” said the counsel.
Appearing for the parents of the boy, lawyer Archana Rupwate said, “The child was forced to leave the school and has now taken admission in a government school.” The school, meanwhile, said it had not removed the child and it was against the rules to do so.