In a cruel twist to a father's fight for justice, the man accused of sexually assaulting and murdering his seven-year-old daughter Hasini has been granted bail. This was after the Madras High Court set aside the detention of 22-year-old Dhasvanth under the Goondas Act.
In February, the 7-year-old who was playing in her apartment complex in Mugalivakkam suddenly went missing. Her parents filed a case with the Mangadu police, and were devastated when they realised that their daughter had been murdered. Their neighbour Dhasvanth, who was a friend of the family, had lured the child into his house and sexually assaulted her, the police found. In the process, Dhasvanth allegedly suffocated the girl when she tried to scream for help. He then put her body in a travel bag, bought petrol, and burnt her body on a highway, according to the police.
On March 20, even as investigations were underway, police slapped the Goondas act against Dhasvanth. For more than a year, the Tamil Nadu police have been booking those arrested under Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act (POCSO), under the Goondas Act, so that they do not get bail.
Dhasvanth's father had applied for his bail in a Mahila Court in Chengalpet even before the he was booked under the Goondas Act. This was done on the basis that the chargesheet in the case was not filed within 90 days. The father had then filed a habeas corpus petition in front of the Madras High Court. The petition claimed that there was no prima facie evidence against Dhasvanth to keep him jailed under the Goondas Act. It further added that the police have allowed for it without making up their mind.
The case came up for hearing in front of Justice Selvam and Justice Kalaiyarasan. The court accused the police of not responding to the petition filed by the father on time and of delaying the case. It further added that this was against the rights of the petitioner. Thus, the Goondas Act against Dhasvanth was squashed.
Police sources have told TNM that there is little they can do when it comes to a court ruling. "The Goondas Act is slapped because such people are a threat to society. We expected to keep him in jail for a year. However his lawyers could convince the judges otherwise," said an officer.
The police are however confident that the accused will face conviction.
"The DNA results that came from Hyderabad have irrefutable proof that Dhasvanth is behind the sexual assault and the murder. We will ensure justice is served when the matter comes to trial," he added.
V Kumar, a senior advocate, represented Dhasvanth in the Madras High Court.
Earlier, speaking to TNM, the victim’s father Rajesh* said, "I want to kill him myself for what he did to my daughter. But I believe in the system, and want to take the right way to get to the bottom of this case.”
“All my relatives and friends are telling me to just stop this legal battle and move on with my life. But if I allow this man to go free today, he will attack another child. And when he does that, I too will be responsible for that," he said, his voice cracking.
TNM, as part of its ethical standards, does not share names of victims of sexual assault. In this case, as the victim is no more, and in the interest of justice, we have received written permission from her father to name Hasini.