Friday, December 8, 2023

Allahabad High Court denies bail to religious teacher for raping 8-year-old girl, directs for his counselling

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The Allahabad High Court, while denying bail to a Juvenile religious teacher, who allegedly raped an eight-year-old girl, observed that he needed counseling by psychiatrists/experts not only for his own betterment, but also for the health of society.

The Single-Judge Bench of Justice Jyotsna Sharma passed this order, while hearing a Criminal Revision filed by Juvenile.

The criminal revision has been filed challenging the order dated 08.03.2022 passed by the Juvenile Justice Board, Kasganj and the order dated 07.05.2022 passed by Special Judge, (POCSO) Act, Kasganj in Criminal Appeal affirming the order of the Juvenile Justice Board and declining bail to the juvenile in a matter arising out of case under sections- 376AB, 506 IPC and Section- 5/6 POCSO Act, Police Station- Kasganj, District- Kasganj.

As per allegations in the FIR lodged by the informant- Smt Shakeela, her daughter aged about 9 years, who resided with her grandmother used to go to the residence of accused to study religious scriptures (para); she went for the same on 05.12.2020 at about 3:00 in the afternoon as usual; To the informant’s mother she appeared to be shocked and frightened when she returned; When her mother asked, she told that the accused sexually assaulted her and threatened her not to inform the police. On the basis of this, an FIR being Case was registered on 06.12.2020.

On her medical examination, injuries on private parts were found from which blood was oozing out. Before the Doctor, she stated that she was sexually and physically assaulted by the accused and was also threatened to refrain from disclosing his (accused) act to anybody else. In her statement recorded under sections 161 and 164 CrPC, she narrated the same story and corroborated the allegations as contained in the FIR.

As per certificate of Chief Medical Officer, she was found to be aged about 8 years. In the age determination inquiry done by the Juvenile Justice Board, the accused was found to be below 18 years.

The Court observed that,

The Court went through the order dated 08.03.2022 passed by the Juvenile Justice Board. The Juvenile Justice Board referred to the judgement of Allahabad High Court passed in Monu @ Moni @ Rahul @ Rohit vs State of UP, wherein it was held that in case the aim and the object of the legislation is not being achieved or the ends of justice may be defeated by releasing the accused, the bail to the juvenile can be declined.

The Juvenile Justice Board also referred to the judgement of the Allahabad High Court in Ankit Babu Sharma (Minor) vs State of UP and Another, (2015) 3 SCCR 362, wherein it was held that being a juvenile is a fact not enough in itself to entitle him the benefit of bail.

The Juvenile Justice Board also referred to the judgement pronounced in Mohammad Nabi vs State of UP, 2011 (2) SCC 368, in which the Court held that in case the juvenile is allegedly involved in an offence of heinous like murder or attempt to murder, rape or attempt to rape, such a probability may exist that he may get exposed to physical, moral or psychological danger and therefore, in such circumstances the bail can be declined. Moreover, it was also observed that once the accused is found juvenile, it is not mandatory that he shall be released on bail.

The Court went through the order of the appellate court dated 07.05.2022 in which the appellate court concurred with the ultimate conclusion reached by the Juvenile Justice Board. The appellate court was of the view that the nature of the case showed complete depravity of mind and that the facts as well as the merits of the case impelled the court to draw a conclusion that in case he is released on bail, the ends of justice shall stand defeated.

The Court noted that,

It is contended on behalf of the revisionist that the mandate of proviso to Section-12 of the Juvenile Justice Act, 2015 and broader principles of law as applicable in the matters of bail to the juveniles have been ignored by the Juvenile Justice Board as well as the appellate court; bail has been declined on the basis of the nature of offence; the courts below have decided the matter as if they were pronouncing the accused-revisionist as guilty without trial; there was no such evidence so as to draw an inference that in case the accused-juvenile is released, he may come into association with any known criminal or he may be exposed to moral, physical or psychological danger, or that his release may defeat the ends of justice; the Board as well as appellate court have treated the case as falling within the exceptional circumstances as defined in proviso to Section- 12(1) of the Juvenile Justice Act, 2015 without having any material before them; the courts below have ignored the social investigation report, inasmuch as the report did not bring out any fact adverse to his release on bail.

The Court further observed that in this case an 8 year old girl of III standard went as usual for religious teachings from a person, who in our society is supposed to be having even higher than usual moral standards of conduct. She was absolutely clueless that she will be preyed upon today.

The shock and trauma caused to the victim as well as her family can easily be understood. This kind of violent sexual assault is an indicator that accused needs counselling by psychiatrist/experts not only for his own betterment but also for the health of society. He needs to be extended services of reformatory and rehabilitatory nature so that he can move without posing danger to himself as well as to the public and so that he can be brought back to the mainstream.

As per social investigation report, he has not been to regular school and is uneducated and that he belonged to a very poor family. His parents too are illiterate and do physical labour.

“In my opinion, he cannot be given that kind of atmosphere in his family as is required for his healthy physical and psychological growth. Prima-facie, it appears that he is in real need of intensive counselling. Such a service cannot be provided effectively outside the observation home/child care institution. Besides such measures may be required so that he grows into an adult with a healthy mind to serve his own best interest as well as the interest of the society at large. In my view, he cannot be risked to fall in the same environs of which he is the product. He may be in dire need of counselling. Such juveniles need to be put under constant supervision of professionals.

To prevent ends of justice from being defeated and to achieve the aim and goal of the salutary act, he should be kept in observation home under strict supervision and should be extended such reformatory services as are available under the scheme of the act”, the Court also observed while dismissing the petition.

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