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Tuesday, September 21, 2021

Delhi HC denies bail to basketball coach facing sexual assault allegations

The court said that a 13-year-old is well equipped to understand conduct whether inadvertent or deliberate conduct.

By: Express News Service | New Delhi |
Updated: August 20, 2021 1:29:56 am
Gavel, courtThe petitioner VHP had also submitted before the court that only a person belonging to the Brahmin community should have been appointed as Pujari of the said temple and not Rathod who is a non-Brahmin. (Representational image)

Rejecting the bail application of a basketball coach accused of sexually assaulting a minor, the Delhi High Court has said that a 13-year-old 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 within one month and then examine the victim within one month thereafter.

The court said that granting bail to the accused, before the charges are framed and the victim is examined, may lead to defeating the purpose of the objective with which the Prevention of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 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 (57), a Chief Coach with the Sports Authority of India, allegedly sexually assaulted the class IX student in April during her basketball coaching class at a sports complex in South Delhi. 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 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 that 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 herein is a 13-year-old girl studying in 9th standard of a public school in New Delhi. She 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.

The police have already completed the investigation in the case. While dismissing the bail application of the accused, the court has granted the accused 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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