The Karnataka High Court, on Wednesday, quashed proceedings initiated against the director, counsellor and a teacher of a pre-school in Bengaluru under the POCSO Act as well as other sections of the IPC.
The parents of several children, had in February this year, complained of molestation and sexual abuse of children by a staff member at the pre-school.
“The allegations in the FIR and the complaint, even if they are taken at face value and accepted in its entirety, do not prima facie constitute the offences alleged against them,“ Justice Aravind Kumar said.
The court stated that complaints filed by parents against the first accused, Manjunath alias Manju Bhayya, who took care of the school security, and allegedly abused the children still stands. There cannot be any dispute against the continuation of the proceedings against him, the court said.
L Veena, Managing Director, and Bhaktipreetha Dutta, a counsellor and coordinator had filed five petitions and Ayisha Sangtaras, a class teacher, had filed one petition challenging the complaints filed by the parents against them.
According to one of the parents, the school’s management was let off due to tampering of FIRs by Marathahalli Police.
“The initial complaint was filed at the HAL Police Station on February 17. The case was filed against the management because even after finding out what had happened, the management did not take action. When we were going through the process of filing FIRs, we were made to go to HAL Police Station, then Marathahalli Police station and back to HAL again. The management’s lawyer claimed that the three people who were accused of turning a blind eye had filed complaints with the Marathahalli police against Manju when they found out. We know that they filed complaints only after Manju was arrested but the dates on the FIRs are different. With such kind of blatant tampering, it becomes difficult to have faith in the legal system,” said the parent of one of the children who was allegedly abused.
The petitioners had claimed that the only offence alleged against them is punishable under Section 188 of IPC (disobedience of the order of duly promulgated by a public servant, causing obstruction and annoyance or jnjury to any person lawful employed).
“The defense lawyer argued that such a complaint can be lodged only by a public servant and cognizance of the same can be taken by a jurisdictional court only if it is in conformity with Section 195 of CrPC (Prosecution for contempt of lawful authority of public servants). The jurisdictional police have no power to register the complaint is what they argued,” the parent added.
The parent of the 3-year-old girl said that she had visited Veena and complained about Manjunath’s doings before filing a police complaint.
“The evening before we filed the complaint, we had met Veena and complained about what had happened to our child. She had told us that she would not file a complaint against Manju and in fact said that he could never indulge in such activities as he was a trusted employee. When we knew that she was not going to do anything, we filed an FIR. But in the court, because the FIRs were tampered with, she got away. She claimed that as soon as she found out what happened, she filed a complaint,” the parent added.
The parent stated that on February 24, when Manju was being arrested by the police, Director Veena had called them and asked them to withdraw the complaint.
“I have recorded the conversation. She pleads us to take back the complaint. We had submitted this as evidence but the judge did not even listen to it. We will file an appeal in the Supreme Court. Looking at the turn of events, we have completely lost faith in the system. We will not stop fighting but at the same time we are beginning to lose faith. My daughter gets scared if she sees any man with any similarities with Manju. This has affected her hugely but we are pulling through,” the parent added.