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Friday, September 24, 2021

Delhi HC denies bail to basketball coach facing sexual assault allegations

The court said a minor girl is well equipped to differentiate between inadvertent and deliberate conduct

By: Express News Service | New Delhi |
Updated: August 20, 2021 7:27:14 am
Delhi news, Delhi city news, Delhi Hight Court, basketball coach sexual assault case, basketball coach Delhi sexual assault case, indian express newsDelhi High Court. (File photo)

Rejecting the bail application of a basketball coach accused of sexually assaulting a minor, the Delhi High Court said that a minor girl is well equipped to differentiate between inadvertent and deliberate conduct. It also observed that the betrayal of trust at an early stage in life may inhibit the child from developing healthy interpersonal relationships in the future.

“This compounds the severity of the matter,” said Justice Subramonium Prasad in the order, while directing the trial court to frame charges in the case in a month and then examine the victim within one month thereafter.

The court said granting bail to the accused before charges are framed and the victim is examined may lead to defeating the purpose of the objective with which the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act (POCSO), 2012, was enacted. “Paramount consideration is to be given to the well-being of the child whose mental psyche is vulnerable, impressionable and in a developing stage. The long-term effects of childhood sexual abuse are, at many times, insurmountable,” it said.

The bench further noted that an act of sexual harassment or sexual assault has the potential to cause mental trauma to the child and may dictate their thought process for years to come. “It may hinder the normal social growth of the child and lead to various psychosocial problems which could require psychological intervention,” the order reads.

The accused, a coach with the Sports Authority of India, allegedly sexually assaulted the girl in April during her basketball coaching class. He has been booked under Section 354-B IPC and Sections 8 and 10 of POCSO Act and was arrested on April 10.

His counsel, before the court, called the allegations a figment of the prosecutrix’s imagination and argued that the FIR was a result of the personal vendetta existing between the wife of the accused and mother of the victim, who work at the same place.

Justice Prasad in the order said the accused, being the basketball coach of the victim and also knowing her parents, can be stated to be in a position of trust or authority of the child. There does not exist a reasonable justification as to why she would be motivated to level false allegations against him, the court added.

“Further, the court is not inclined to agree with the submission that the prosecutrix may have misread an innocuous act of the petitioner. The prosecutrix… is well equipped to differentiate between conduct that may be inadvertent and conduct that may be deliberate. Furthermore, the allegations in the FIR as well as subsequent statements of the prosecutrix are coherent in nature. Therefore, nothing in the submissions gives rise to the apprehension that there may have been a misinterpretation of the situation on behalf of the prosecutrix,” it observed further.

Police have already completed the investigation in the case. While dismissing the bail plea of the accused, the court granted him the liberty to approach it again for a grant of bail after two months irrespective of whether the victim has been examined or not.

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