March 18, 2011 5:54:27 pm
The Supreme Court on Friday overturned the acquittal of two British nationals who were convicted in 2008 on charges of sexual abuse of minor boys living in shelters run by them in Mumbai and directed they be taken into custody to undergo their remaining jail terms.
“Children are the greatest gift to humanity. The sexual abuse of children is one of the most heinous crimes. It is an appalling violation of their trust,an ugly breach of our commitment to protect the innocent,” the court said while restoring the conviction of paedophiles Allan John Waters and Duncan Alexander Grantthe.
“Our Constitution provides several measures to protect our children” and government is expected to implement them to meet the constitutional aim,a bench of justices P Sathasivam and B S Chauhan observed in their judgement.
Besides ordering the duo to serve their remaining jail terms,the bench also directed recovery of damages and fines imposed on them by the trial court on March 18,2006.
The trial court had ordered the two Britishers to pay a compensation of 20,000 UK pounds each while also imposing a fine of Rs 15,000 on William D’souza,their Indian aide,who was a manager in the shelters-for-homeless run by them at three places in Mumbai.
Waters and Grant were sentenced to six years each.
While Waters has undergone five years imprisonment,Grant has served three years and two months. D’Souza has served a month longer in jail than the three years term imposed upon him.
The apex court restored their convictions on appeals by civil society Childline India Foundation and Maharashtra government,challenging the High Court ruling which had freed them in July 2008.
The bench said,”It obligates both Central,State and Union territories to protect them (children) from the evils,provide free and good education and make them good citizens of this country,” the bench said.
It added,”Several legislations and directions of this court are there to safeguard their intent. But these are to be properly implemented and monitored. We hope and trust that all the authorities concerned implement the same for a better future of these children.
The High court had set aside their conviction imposed by the sessions court,saying none of the other children living in the shelter Anchorage,run by the accused,had corroborated the two victims’ depositions of their sexual abuse.
The apex court bench,however,ruled that the sex abuse victims’ depositions needed no independent corroboration. It also said that many of the children might not have made a statement against the trio as they had been living in shelters for the homeless run by them.
The case against the trio was registered in November 2001 on the intervention of civil society on the basis of statements of the two victims.
But,by the time the case was registered,Waters and Grant had left the country. While Waters was arrested in USA in pursuance of an Interpol notice against him and brought to India,Grant surrendered before an Indian court on his own in 2002.
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