The trustee of a posh Andheri school, who was accused of sexually assaulting a three-year-old student, finally surrendered before the Dindoshi Court. Charges have been framed against the trustee under Protection Of Children Against Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act and he has been sent to judicial custody till April 21. Further, the SC has ordered a fast track trial, so the matter can be finalised within four months
The case came to light when the three-year-old girl's parents alleged that they suspected something was wrong when they noticed a change in her behaviour and the fact that she was having difficulty in sitting and walking. After speaking with the school, the child's parents lodged a complaint with the MIDC police.
The accused is a Frenchman, who has been living in India for over 25 years now and is married to an Indian. He along with teachers and staff at the Andheri school were questioned by the MIDC police
The cops hit an initial dead end after they could not find any evidence in the case. While an FIR was booked against the trustee under An FIR was lodged on May 18, under Sections 376 (2) of the Indian Penal Code and Sections 4, 6 and 10 of the POCSO Act, evidence supporting the complaint was difficult to find
Citing the police's lacklustre performance, the Child Rights Commission (CRC) stepped into the case. It demanded an immediate arrest of the accused. "There has to be an immediate arrest in a POCSO case. But in this one, the police have delayed it for way too long. Hence, we want details of other cases," said A N Tripathi, CRC secretary, who had chaired the commission's hearing
After the cops were pulled up by the Maharashtra State Commission for Protection of Child Rights and six months after they had filed a case of rape, the MIDC police finally arrested the 57-year-old trustee.
As part of the investigation, the police recorded statements of at least 75 people, including students, teachers, members of the school management and employees
In his bail application before the Bombay High Court, the accused denied the allegations claiming he was “innocent and a victim of circumstances.”
Meanwhile, another child, a three-year-old boy and his parents came forward to state that he too had been a victim of sexual abuse
However, the boy later told the police that he was just joking and hadn't been abused. The boy stated, "Aisa kuch nahi hua tha. Main mazaak kar raha tha (Nothing like that happened. I was joking)." The child rights commission, meanwhile, sought to determine whether the child has denied the crime due to improper questioning by the police.
About a fortnight after the co-founder and trustee of a reputed Andheri-based international school was arrested in the toddler rape case, and more than six months after the police had filed an FIR against him, the three-year-old girl's class teacher, the other accused in the case, was arrested
The 31-year-old woman, who was the child's class teacher, was arrested for being an accomplice in the crime just two days before the hearing in the criminal writ petition filed by the parents in the Bombay High Court
The trustee and co-founder of a reputed international school in Andheri and the teacher, both arrested in the alleged rape of a three-year-old student, were later granted bail. Advocate Suren Shetty, who represented the trustee, told mid-day, "The grounds of argument included that he was innocent, as he voluntarily returned from abroad and joined the investigation without any summons. Had he committed any crime, being a foreign national, he would have stayed back."
After being granted bail, the trustee was back to work at the institute. Parents were unable to digest that even though he was yet to be cleared of the charges, the accused was working in such close proximity to their children. Shockingly, when they expressed their objections, the management simply asked them to look for another school.
The Bombay High Court later restrained the trustee of the international school in Andheri, from entering the school premises until further orders, after the parents of some of the students approached it
The Bombay High Court then proceeded to cancel the trustee's bail on April 2. Following the cancellation, there were at least 10 resignations at the school, including that of the principal. This lead to a lot of worry among the parents. Apart from the principal, the resignations included that of seven teachers and two section heads
After the Bombay High Court cancelled the school trustee's bail, he managed to approach the apex court and get a breather from arrest until April 13. However, the Supreme Court dismissed a special leave petition filed by the trustee and asked him to surrender before the concerned authorities within three days. Meanwhile, the SC disapproved of an intervention filed by around 350 parents of former and current students in support of the trustee
With the surrender of the school's trustee, and the Supreme Court's directive to fastrack the hearing, the case of a toddler's rape at a prestigious international school in Andheri has reached a critical juncture. Here are the latest developments