A Delhi court on December 22 convicted a music teacher, earlier employed at a Rohini school, and sentenced him to five years of rigorous imprisonment for sexually assaulting a seven-year-old student in 2013. The court, however, acquitted the then principal of the school, who was named in the chargesheet for allegedly not informing police about the incident on time.
The court said there can be variations in the testimony of a child victim, but that is “not sufficient” to disbelieve her. The court added that in child abuse jurisprudence, the burden falls on the accused to prove himself innocent. “There is no reason for the child victim to falsely implicate her music teacher… Accused (also) failed to discharge the burden when it was shifted to him by the prosecution…. (The music teacher) is convicted for the offence punishable under POCSO for sexual offence,” Additional Sessions Judge Amit Kumar said.
The case dates back to August 2013, when the 65-year-old accused had “touched the minor inappropriately”.
Court records state that the minor had not informed her parents since her mother was pregnant at the time. The records also state that the minor did not have enough courage to inform her teachers about the incident. She, however, confided in her mother in April 2014 after her mother showed her a video. In her deposition, the minor spoke of the video. “Jisme bataya tha ki bacchon ke saath agar koi galat harkat hoti hai, usse apne mummy papa ko batana chahiye (If a child is victim to any kind of wrongdoing, the child should confide in her parents).”
Soon after she told her mother, her parents visited the school and told the then principal of the incident. The parents alleged to police that even though the principal promised strict action against the accused, none was taken. The parents then lodged a complaint with the police.
During hearing in the case, counsel for the accused argued that there was a delay of eight months in reporting the matter. The counsel also argued that the child recounted the “same story” during her statement to the magistrate under Section 164 of CrPC, and during her deposition in front of the court. “…Child of such a tender age is not capable of giving verbatim same story,” submitted the counsel for the accused.
While observing that there is no dispute that there was a delay in reporting of the matter, the court disagreed with the counsel’s submission. “The child victim has stated throughout that she did not inform her mother because she was pregnant and she did not want to give her tension. The child was a sensitive witness and the delay has been explained,” observed the court.
Speaking to The Indian Express, the then principal said, “I reported the matter to the management as as soon the school reopened (three days after the incident)… I was dragged into the case without any fault.”
She also claimed that the accused passed away in Tihar Jail on December 31.