The Kerala High Court on Friday allowed the 15-year-old survivor in the Imam sexual assault case to return home with her mother.
Issuing the final order on Friday afternoon, High Court judges Annie John and Harikumar sadi the girl who had been taken from her house and put under the protection of the Child Welfare Committee, can return. The child had reportedly expressed desire to return home during a hearing in the judge's chamber on Wednesday of the revision petition filed by her parents to retrieve her custody. The judges also observed that since the accused Imam had been arrested by the Kerala police from Madurai, the girl was safer and could be allowed to return home. The order also stated that the parent’s petition to recover custody of their child was not considered appropriately by the Juvenile Justice Board.
On February 9, at least a week after the sexual assault by Imam Shafeeq Qassimi, the district Child Welfare Committee shifted the 15-year-old survivor to their custody. This after allegations that the survivor’s mother had attempted to hide the abuse faced by her daughter. The family had also refused to file a complaint against the accused Imam.
The survivor’s mother had initially filed petition with the Juvenile Justice Board and then later, a Habeas Corpus with the Kerala High Court. The High Court had asked the petitioner to wait for the Juvenile Justice Board’s verdict, following which she withdrew the Habeas Corpus. When the Juvenile Justice Board said that the child should continue in the CWC’s care, the mother filed a revision petition with the Kerala High Court, which was heard on March 6, Wednesday.
In the interim order passed on Wednesday, the High Court ordered that the survivor remain with the CWC. However, in the final order that released on Friday, the court allowed the survivor go back home.
“She will put under the supervision of the district child welfare officer,” a source in the High Court told TNM.
The 15-year-old survivor and class 10 student had been taken by the accused imam, in his Innova, to an isolated forest region near Vithura, where he sexually assaulted her. When eye witnesses (NREGA workers nearby) had questioned what a school going girl was doing with a 40-year-old man, the Imam said that the survivor was his wife. However the eye-witnesses as well as other members of the Tholicode Muslim Mosque, filed a complaint against him in the Vithura station.
Over a month after this incident, the Imam who had been on the run. He was arrested from a lodge in Madurai in Thursday evening.