A WEEK after the Bombay High Court pulled up the Mumbai Police for its “casual approach” while investigating a case of sexual abuse of a three-year-old girl, the police arrested the trustee of the school on Tuesday. The girl had alleged the trustee of the school, along with a woman teacher, had sexually abused and raped her in school. In addition, the probe in the case has now been handed over to an ACP-rank officer.
A press release issued by ACP (Meghwadi division), who is now investigating the case, stated that they arrested the trustee, a 56-year-old French national, in connection with the case. The release added that the accused was produced before court in Dindoshi, which remanded him in police custody till November 14. A senior officer said, “We will be questioning the accused in connection with the case. Depending on the probe, we may decide to arrest the teacher at a later stage.”
The alleged incident took place in January this year and a police complaint was registered by the girl’s mother. According to the complaint, the child was abused on several occasions and the incident came to light when her mother noticed she was unable to walk and sit properly. The child identified the accused from their photographs on the school website.
The MIDC police station registered an FIR, charging the accused with rape and sections of the POCSO Act. The police, however, did not make any arrest following which the parents approached the HC. While hearing the matter on October 31, a bench of Justices Ranjit More and Shalini Phansalkar-Joshi expressed surprise that despite the victim clearly naming and identifying the accused, and her testimony being supported by the complaint made by the mother, the police had delayed the probe by examining an unnecessarily long list of witnesses.
The prosecution, meanwhile, submitted that one of the reasons the accused had not been arrested was that no other children from the school had raised any allegations of abuse. The prosecution added that the accused had denied the charges and the police had conducted a polygraph (lie-detector) test on them and found they were not lying. The prosecutor also said medical examination of the child was conducted in a government-run hospital but the results had remained inconclusive. The court observed that in a case where sections of POCSO Act are applied, the police can rely on the victim’s testimony.
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